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Some Facts on Violence and PTSD

Gender-based violence and trafficking in women are, unfortunately, widespread realities. Women are the primary victims. Since 1997, the European Commission  by means of the Daphne Programme  has financed targeted actions to fight violence against women and children and to protect victims and groups at risk. The projects forming the basis for this network participate in these measures. They have been funded by the EU to improve the health care situation of women in Europe who develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of gender-based violence.

The situation is such: both in the field of medicine and in psychosocial counselling contexts, the connection between violence experienced and the symptoms of PTSD often remains undetected. This leads to situations where treatment remains merely symptom-oriented and does not adequately take the actual causes into account. The gender-based origins of PTSD are not considered; women do not receive support in putting an end to the situation of violence or coping with its consequences.

Reasons among health care and social services staff as well as police and justice for disregarding the problem complex of violence are tabooing, helplessness, lack of counselling competence, as well as  absence of information about the clinical picture and about options of referral. This applies to the whole of Europe.

Yet there are also differences to be found within Europe. On the one hand, the sensitivity and determination with which the political intention of protecting women's human rights is and has been implemented plays a significant part in EU member countries. Just as the gathering and publication of statistical material and research work, the range of care offers provided is an indicator of how seriously national efforts are taken to deal with the problem of violence against women and the need for adequate mental health care, and to take consistent action in the victims' interests.

Apart from this, the structures of general national health care systems are very different, in aspects such as the percentage of citizens with health insurance, services/costs covered by public health insurance, density of clinics, doctor's practices and counselling organisations. The respective economic capacity of member countries has an effect on the funding of help offers. Only few outpatient trauma therapy places are available, and in many countries, outpatient psychotherapy must be paid for privately.