The impact of gender-based violence
Physical impact on the victim
Gender-based violence damages its victims’ health, dignity, and security, often persisting through a culture of silence, stigma, and shame.
Victims of violence can experience harm to their sexual or reproductive health, including forced and unwanted pregnancy, illegal abortions, female genital mutilation (FGM), physical injury. Also, psychological stress including lack of sleep or nightmares, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, disruption of sexual or reproductive health, or even death.
World Renew focuses our response work on a tangible and concrete support that helps survivors of GBV process their trauma, heal, and find safety and flourishing in their community by:
- Providing health and economic support for teenage and unplanned pregnancies
- Offering sexual and reproductive health rights education for adolescents and young mothers
- Reversing the trends of school drop outs among those who have experienced abuse through providing support and grassroots advocacy
- Creating economic opportunities for GBV survivors
- Supporting trauma healing and counselling to process stress, depression, and general feelings of unworthiness through the biblically based curriculum as well as group and individual counselling
- Connecting women with medical care for fistulas
When a woman experiences sexual abuse, the physical and emotional effect lasts and manifests itself in all aspects of her life. The survivors of sexual assault and rape have many trauma-induced effects such as lack of sleep and food irregularities, exhaustion, feelings of rage, fear of sex, self-guilt, and lack of ability to focus.
Those who have experienced sexual abuse or other forms of gender-based violence often feel guilt or shame associated with the experience. However, remember that this feeling does not have a rational basis and that seeking help from others goes a long way in assisting with recovery.
Sexual abuse can have profound and lifelong impacts on the survivors’ mental health, leaving them more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At World Renew, our trauma-processing groups help survivors of GBV address depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, isolation, loss of trust, and low esteem.
Meet Mina, who was sexually abused by her elder brother, causing her to stop going to school. Mina’s leaders recognized gender-based violence and took immediate steps to help her.
Impact on society and culture
Gender-based violence culture degrades women and girls, normalizing the abuse, claiming GBV is incidental, as well as ignoring sexism, promoting violence, and using men’s masculinity to justify or refute their actions. The shame and stigma associated with GBV limit the survivors’ will to seek medical and legal help. Legal processes are not affordable and take a long time for victims/survivors to get justice, if any at all.
Different common societal and cultural factors come into play when talking about gender-based violence in a culture or society; these include:
- Gender stereotypes and prejudice
- Perceptions of femininity and masculinity
- General approval in the public sphere of violence, such as street sexual harassment of women
Sexuality is often connected in many cultures with the idea of so-called “family values.” Some cultural traditions permit the killing of women accused of defiling their honor by engaging in sex, marriage, or divorce without the family’s consent.