Women experience violence in many different forms that can affect them both physically and mentally, including acts of physical violence like punching or slapping, sexual violence, as well as psychological abuse. A large amount of this violence committed against women is caused by that woman’s intimate partner rather than a complete stranger. Violence against women is becoming talked about more and more, including ways to end it. Women also experience trauma, alarmingly about twice as much as men in our society and similar statistics can probably be found around the world. Trauma, as defined by the DSM, is something that is life- threatening. Trauma in actuality is determined based on the individual and the circumstances of their life and is culturally influenced. (ViolenceAgainstWomen, 2017) Looking at both violence against women and trauma as health issues, I believe they both challenge and reinforce our ideas of health, illness, and medicine. Health and illness have different meanings all around the world and among different practices. In the United States, biomedicine is the largest practice throughout the country that is based on biological and chemical knowledge of human bodies and is aimed at healing individuals rather than populations. (deconstructing)
Looking at violence against women and trauma as health issues can reinforce the ideas that we have about health and illness. Looking at health and illness from a biomedical standpoint, can be defined as wellness, or the lack thereof, of the body and the mind, which can be affected by violence and trauma. Violence against women falls into this category because the violence women experience can threaten them either physically, mentally, or both. The same goes for trauma, which can be both physical and mental, even though it is mostly a threat to one’s mental state.
Seeing violence against women and trauma as health issues pose a lot of challenges to the way we look health and illness. From the biomedical standpoint, there are weaknesses that deter from viewing violence against women and trauma as health issues. Biomedicine is not good for long term conditions, which can be a big part of experiencing violence or trauma: women can be victims of violence continuously, or the trauma they have experienced could relapse. Another problem is that biomedicine ignores certain aspects of health, including environmental, political, and social aspects. (Deconstructing Biomedicine, 2017) Including these different aspects is essential, especially when dealing with trauma because it may not always be straightforward like experiencing rape or getting into a car accident. While these can be seen as health issues from a biomedical standpoint, they can be viewed differently by other practices in other places around the world. In places like South Africa, for example, health and illness more likely focuses on treating populations rather than individuals, especially if they work with limited resources. Also differing from biomedical practices, places like South Africa include spirituality along with body and mind as a part of health. Looking from a spiritual standpoint, some of the events that one may consider traumatic may not be considered with the same importance. Some things that affect us just physically do not get as much attention as things that affect us spiritually.
Looking at trauma further, we see that the affects of trauma can be transmitted from parents to their offspring, similar to the transmission of knowledge and culture. This is referred to as intergenerational trauma which I believe reinforces the biochemical model of health. One reason I say this is because trauma can cause biological changes, and can possibly influence one’s parenting styles. Children who experience maltreatment from their parents may also experience poverty, poor mental health, substance abuse, poor coping strategies, and physiological susceptibility to stressors, any of which can contribute to transmission of negative outcomes. Children can learn behaviors from their parents and can be impacted by their parents mental health. There are several ways that parental maternal health impacts children including genetics, interactions between genetics and environmental factors, and the influences of factors that come secondary to mental problems like disturbed relationships. Even though a lot of intergenerational trauma can be attributed to how the child is treated by the parent, it can also be partly attributed to peptides associated with the stress response or those that are associated with attachment. (Integrational Trauma, 2009)
“Violence Against Women, Trauma, and Resilience As Health Issues.” ANP204 Introduction to Medical Anthropology Ghost Sickness among Native Americans Comments, 8 June 2017, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/lecture-videos/violence-against-women/.