Domestic violence 'kills more than cancer'

Domestic violence kills more women in Europe every year than cancer or road accidents, a new report reveals.

Women who survive domestic violence tend to have continual health problems. Even five years after violence has ceased, women victims need health care one-fifth more than other women.

The statistics are in a report from the Women’s Health Council. The WHC calls on the government to introduce screening and have health professionals trained to recognise the signs of domestic violence.

The report reviewed a body of international research and found a direct link between other ill-health and the physical damage of domestic violence. Being a victim of violence is a greater health risk than other well-known factors such as overweight, smoking and high blood pressure, the WHC notes.

Separate Irish figures are not available, but the WHC says they would be expected to resemble percentages in similar societies such as Britain and the US. In England and Wales, health spending on physical injuries caused by violence against women (VAW) was around 1.5 billion (2.1 billion) in 2001. In the US, direct medical and mental  health services for abused women in 2003 alone cost $4.1 billion (3 billion).

Young women  are especially vulnerable. Last year domestic violence and rape accounted for nearly one fifth of illness afflicting women aged 15-44 across Europe.

Launching the report, Geraldine Luddy, WHC director, said: “We feel very strongly that a health-focused approach is necessary to address the needs of women who are experiencing violence.”

The report is available from the Women’s Health Council website at

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