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"They came with two guns": The consequences of sexual violence for the mental health of women in armed conflicts

31-03-2010 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 877, by Evelyne Josse

Sexual violence has serious and multiple consequences for the mental health of women. It has a lasting negative impact on the victim's perception of herself, of events and of others. This article discusses these consequences of sexual violence for the mental health of women, especially those who are its victims during armed conflicts.

 

Evelyne Josse is a psychologist and psychotherapist. She is currently pedagogical co-ordinator at the Institute of Victimology in Belgium, and consultant in psychology in humanitarian action. 
 
Abstract 
Sexual violence has serious and multiple consequences for the mental health of women. At the psychological level, it leads to radical changes in the image that the victim has of herself, in her relations with her immediate social circle and beyond, in the community as a whole, and in the way in which the victim sees the past, present, and future. It thus has a lasting negative impact on the victim’s perception of herself, of events, and of others. At the community level, it stigmatizes the victim, depriving her of any social status or intrinsic value as a person (she is seen as unfaithful or promiscuous), and thereby modifies relationships within the community with an overall deleterious effect.   This article discusses these consequences of sexual violence for the mental health of women, especially those who are its victims during armed conflicts.  


 
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