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The Biggest Health Threat to Women

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The Biggest Health Threat to Women

Feb 06, 2014

What is the biggest health threat to women worldwide? The answer will likely surprise you. The good news: there is a way to completely eradicate it. Dr. Kirtly Jones tells you what it is and what we all can do about it.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones: So what's the biggest health threat to women? This is Dr. Kirtly Jones from the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology here at University of Utah Health Care and this is the scope or the problem, on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones: What's the biggest health threat to women? It's intimate partner violence. 1 in 3 women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. And the consequences last throughout her life. Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship, used by one partner to gain or maintain power over an intimate partner. Of all the women murdered in the U.S. about 1/3 were killed by a domestic partner and the rate of non-lethal abuse is much higher than that. Thirty-two percent of all homicides in Utah were by a domestic partner. This is 1/3 of all the homicides in Utah are domestic violence homicides, about 1 in 5 American women will be raped in their lifetime.
The good news, the violence against women's act was first signed in 1994 and was reenacted has year in the U.S. and in the past ten years, the rate of sexual violence against women and girls has declined, but it's remained stable for the past five years. Changes in the laws and growing awareness in the culture have had a positive impact, still, too many women experience rape and too many families are poisoned by domestic violence. Women who've experienced domestic violence are more likely to have pelvic pain, headache, back pain, seek medical care for physical problems that are aside from the domestic violence are closely tied to that. And children that have been exposed to family violence suffer post traumatic stress disorder, bed wetting, nightmares, illnesses and girls are more likely to experience abuse as adults and boys are likely to be abusers. So what's a person to do? Last year on Valentine's Day, February 14th, one billion men and women gathered, danced, talked or demonstrated against violence against women and girls. What can you do in your home, and in your community and in your world to decrease violence against women and girls. If you see it, say it. It can feel shameful to be a victim but it won't stop unless we say it. Report domestic violence and rape if you can. Call your local rape crisis hotline or domestic violence hotline if you feel you cannot call the police. When the arguments have escalated to the point that you don't feel safe, then you need help, you need to speak out and speak out with professionals who can help you. The Utah Department of Health has a 24/7 365 hotline for domestic violence, 800-897-5465 and a hotline for rape and sexual assault, 888-421-1100.
Raise your children in a way that tells them that physical, verbal and emotional violence in the home is forbidden and tell them why. Make the prevention of domestic violence and rape in your community and issue. In your church and in your schools, speak out. We all say, wow, if my partner ever hit me I'd walk out the door. Well people who endure and stay in relationships in which there is partner violence are more likely to be poor, women of color, undereducated, and with children and have no resources. But many women who stay, of course believe and are told by their partner, after the violent act is finished that they will never do that again. However people who do it once often do it again. Support organizations that provide advocacy and shelter for abused women and their children, like the YWCA. Find your local women's domestic violence shelter and donate or volunteer or distribute their educational material. And lately, on Valentine's Day, coming up, it is about hearts and chocolates and roses, but take a minute and consider the world of 1 billion abused women and girls, and the 1 billion women who will gather, all over the world, to try to change the culture of violence against women. Mention it at home or to your friends, Google One Billion Rising, to see if there's an event near you. And rise up for a better world for you, for your family and for your children. This is Dr. Kirtly Jones and thank you for joining us on The Scope.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.