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A life course model of self-reported violence exposure and illhealth with a public health problem perspective

Department of Research and Development, Härnösand, 871 85 Härnösand, Sweden

Violence has probably always been part of the human experience. Its impact can be seen, in various forms, in all parts of the world. In 1996, WHO:s Forty-Ninth World Health Assembly adopted a resolution, declaring violence a major and growing public health problem around the world. Public health work centers around health promotion and disease prevention activities in the population and public health is an expression of the health status of the population taking into account both the level and the distribution of health. Exposure to violence can have many aspects, differing throughout the life course ― deprivation of autonomy, financial exploitation, psychological and physical neglect or abuse — but all types share common characteristics: the use of destructive force to control others by depriving them of safety, freedom, health and, in too many instances, life; the epidemic proportions of the problem, particularly among vulnerable groups; a devastating impact on individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and society. There is considerable evidence that stressful early life events influence a variety of physical and/or psychological health problems later in life. Childhood adversity has been linked to elevated rates of morbidity and mortality from number of chronic diseases. A model outlining potential biobehavioural pathways is put forward that may be a potential explanation of how exposure to violence among both men and women work as an important risk factor for ill health and should receive greater attention in public health work.
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