Intended for healthcare professionals


Violence against women and girls has long term health consequences

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 30 December 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:e069311
  1. Rebecca B Lawn, postdoctoral research fellow1,
  2. Karestan C Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology1 2
  1. 1Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: R B Lawn rlawn{at}

The association between violence and poor physical health is often overlooked

England and Wales are experiencing an epidemic of violence against women and girls, according to a recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.1 The report, commissioned by the home secretary after the murder of Sarah Everard, detailed the sobering extent of female homicide, sexual assault and harassment, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of abuse that are too numerous to list here.1 This is a worldwide concern.2 For example, one in three women worldwide report experiencing one or both of the two most common types of violence in their lifetime—violence committed by a male intimate partner (physical, sexual, psychological) and sexual violence by a non-partner.2

These statistics are shocking, but the critical implications of this epidemic for the long term physical health of women and girls are too often …

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