Domestic violence survivors urged to seek medical help


Eliminate violence against womenA leading gynaecologist from St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital has urged women who experience violence to seek medical help for common female health problems, in the lead up to International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

St Andrew’s Director of Gynaecology Dr Caron Forde said domestic and family violence survivors were less likely to seek medical help for common female health issues, such as urinary incontinence.

“Women who experience physical and emotional trauma suffer the side effects of low self-esteem and poor self-worth, but we want to break down this stigma and urge them to seek the help they need,” Dr Forde said.

“Many female patients at St Andrew’s Pelvic Medicine Centre do find it takes courage to seek medical help for conditions that feel ‘embarrassing’.

“Urinary incontinence implies lack of control of the bladder which leads to feelings of shame and reluctance to seek help for many women.

“Women living in violent situations are even less likely than other women to go to their GP or friends about common and ‘embarrassing’ health conditions like urinary and faecal incontinence.

“We need to create awareness among all women that these health problems are not unusual and are highly treatable – they do not have to put up with it.”

Dr Forde said urinary incontinence affected up to 37 per cent of Australian women especially after childbirth according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006.

“After careful assessment with a few simple investigations, a treatment plan can put in place which returns women to a normal happy and fulfilling life,” she said.

Dr Forde, will take part in activities from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

Dr Forde will help locate one-metre high orange wooden female figurines affixed with containers of information and awareness on violence against women across Brisbane.

One of these figurines will be in a different location at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital during the 16-day campaign.

As the bright and optimistic colour for the UNiTE Campaign, orange represents a future free from violence against women and girls.

One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15.

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