Week 4 Blog Post

Most people have a general understanding of the word trauma. The official definition of trauma being; a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) definition of trauma is slightly different however, they define it as direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury. That simply means something that is life threatening occurs, trauma is also something that is culturally determined (Sperlich Interview 2018.) Violence against women is a specific type of trauma that has many possible forms. Some forms that it may take are physical, sexual, psychological and social. Reframing violence against and trauma as health issues could challenge our understandings of health, illness and medicine.

Reframing violence against women and trauma as health issues could challenge current understandings of health, illness and medicine for many reasons. One way it would challenge current ideals is that most trauma and violence women experience is hidden from plain sight. Women in Ireland have often times been left to cope with the death and injuries of loved ones or to face the destruction of normal family life. (McWilliams 1997) Women are not always seen as in charge in households in Ireland. There is also the sense of hiding away, behind makeup, the evidence of domestic abuse. There is a sense that because there are not present injuries there is no illness present. This point can be shown again when considering trauma, because it is not an illness that shows visible signs. It is shown through a persons’ actions. This would change drastically if there was a move towards recognizing violence against women and trauma as health issues. People would not try to hide that these incidents had occurred. An organization called SafeIreland is proposing amendments for the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill. They suggest a variety of thing within the amendments, one of which is information should be given to victims that includes information about specialist services. (SafeIreland 2016) This would help to destigmatize seeking help after trauma occurs, which could help people to understand that victim services are a helpful type of medicine.

“Violence’s’ against women are used to keep women in their place; to limit their opportunities to live, learn, work, and care as full human beings; to hamper their abilities to organize and claim their rights.” (McWilliams 1997) People, especially men, in Ireland often use violence to obtain what they desire. Violence used against women is no exception. This would significantly affect the women that are victims of this violence. Their health may be impacted because of the violence, not only in physical way but as mental consequences. There is a strong correlation between PTSD and depression. Along with that is that women experience trauma at two times the rate of men (Sperlich Interview 2018.) This could be studied under the pretenses of the biomedical model that is the biopsychosocial model. This model takes into account all the possible things that could affect an individual’s overall health. The field of biomedicine is concerned with treating individuals. It is also a scientifically informed practice. This would suggest that someone who is suffering from chronic violence or psychological problems they would be easy to treat. However, chronic issues are one of the main downfalls of the field of biomedicine. There is the issue of under reporting violence against women, so this means there is less studies of the long-term help that is sought by victims of violence.

Intergenerational trauma is an area that could potentially reinforce current understandings of biochemical and mechanical models of health. One model being the biopsychosocial model of health. Intergenerational trauma considers what trauma does to one’s psyche and their ability to form good relationships. The biopsychosocial model contemplates the combination of biological, social, and psychological factors when assessing an individual’s mental health. This can come into play when considering intergenerational trauma and transmission of violence. In Ireland there is a history of violence in the community. “The male-female power imbalance is inarguably fundamental to gender-based violence in situations of peace and conflict, though the motivation and meaning of gender-based violence are different in war and peacetime.” (Hoewer 2013) If an individuals life is full of mostly violence around them then their social aspects is made up violence. This would lead one to believe they would rely more heavily on their biological urges towards violent acts, because it something that they understand. It is unclear however, that experiencing trauma would leave a lasting impression in an individuals biological make up. If that was true that would mean people who have violence in their family history would be genetically predisposed to violent acts. Biomedicine only looks at individuals, however to understand the intergenerational trauma biomedical professionals would need to look into family history of violence.


Hoewer, M. (2013). Women, Violence, and Social Change in Northern Ireland and Chiapas: Societies Between Tradition and Transition. Internation Journal of Conflict and Violence, 7(2), 217-231. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/docview/1460877165?pq-origsite=summon

McWilliams, M. Violence against women and political conflict: The Northern Ireland experience. Critical Criminology, 8(1), 78-92. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/article/10.1007%2FBF02461137

Safe Ireland List of Proposed Amendments to the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016 for the Dáil Select Committee (2016). In SafeIreland. Retrieved July 27, 2018, from https://www.safeireland.ie/policy-publications

Violence Against Women, Trauma, and Resilience As Health Issues – Guest Lecturer, Mickey Sperlich, PhD (20 min)

One thought on “Week 4 Blog Post

  1. Hi Sam,

    I definitely agree that reframing violence against women as health issues would challenge our understandings. I think it is interesting that you mentioned that some women hide the symptoms of their abuse, such as bruises or other visible signs. This also makes me think about how many people who suffer from depression may hide it from other people or even their doctors. A survey in California showed that 43% of people hid their depression symptoms from their doctor during doctor’s appointments because they were afraid of what might happen afterwards (MacMillan 2011). This is very similar to what you mentioned, however depression is seen as a health issue, so following this logic, violence against women should be seen as a health issue as well because they both can deal with hidden symptoms. I think this also is dependent on the amount of stigma against certain illnesses in our society, since there is a stigma against domestic violence and people sometimes think of women as “weak” it might also contribute to women not wanting to come forward if they are abused. In order to make it harder for people to hide these kind of events, I wonder if there should be regular screenings for domestic abuse at doctors offices, like there are screenings for depression and PTSD if a person has experienced trauma?

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