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GBV & the Humanitarian Community - PART 2
photo credit | ISAF Media
by
Dr. Linda Wagener
on
February 7, 2012
| Gender Concerns |

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can become a victim of GBV, there are some groups that are more vulnerable and need extra protection. You will notice that some of these are associated with being a humanitarian aid worker. These include:

  • Women who are traveling, working, or living alone
  • Women in cultures of gender inequality
  • Lone female heads of households
  • Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Individuals in an abusive intimate or dependent relationship
  • Individuals in war or armed conflict situations
  • Those with a history of rape or sexual abuse

What are the consequences for health and well-being?

People who have experienced GBV may encounter a wide range of health consequences. There can be both short- and long-term emotional, social, spiritual and physical harm. Death is the most extreme outcome, but it is not uncommon even in less severe cases for the event to change the person’s entire life course. Some of the physical effects can include traumatic injury, pregnancy, and infections such as STDs, or HIV. Psychological effects can include panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, feeling disconnected from feelings or people, depression, anxiety, fears, suicidal thoughts and behavior, substance abuse or overuse, eating disorders, sexual problems, headaches, upset stomach, sleep disturbances, mood swings, avoidance, difficulty switching off negative thinking, self-blame, fear of another assault, anger, or embarrassment. See our training module on trauma for greater detail.

GBV can also have a negative impact on relationships that can affect both work and personal life.  These can include a desire to avoid others or a fear of being alone. Unfortunately, it might also include being stigmatized by others. GBV varies across different cultures. These include differences in how GBV is acted out. Culture also influences how women will respond to GBV and what kind of consequences occur for both the victim and perpetrator. Because of the reality of negative social consequences, individuals are often understandably afraid to report the event or even to seek help. For example, a woman humanitarian aid worker who has been the victim of rape in the field may hesitate to let others know for a host of reasons including fear that it will affect her personal and work relationships and future career opportunities.

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