The rapidly growing literature on the somatic, nonpsychiatric effects of violence on women's health is reviewed, including rape, battery, and the adult consequences of child sexual abuse. The sequelae of these victimizations are summarized with consideration of acute effects (genital and nongenital injuries, sexually transmitted disease, and pregnancy), late consequences (chronic pelvic pain and other forms of chronic pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, premenstrual symptoms, and negative health behaviors), and long-term increases in the use of medical services. A recurrent theme across the literature is that the medical treatment of all types of victimized women can be improved by providing attention to the underlying cause of their symptoms. Achievement of this goal requires that physicians identify victimization history and provide access to appropriate support services. Because all forms of violence against women are prevalent among primary care populations, and victimization is clearly linked to health, health care providers cannot afford to miss this relevant history. The article concludes with suggestions for fostering and responding to disclosures of victimization.
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