Women, war, and violence: surviving the experience

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Jun;17(5):793-804. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0602.


Objectives: To investigate how Lebanese women were affected by the July 2006 conflict that erupted between the Hezbollah and the State of Israel, with a specific focus on their personal violence exposure and how they coped with these circumstances.

Methods: Participants were 310 women at Ministry of Social Affairs Centers (MOSA) located in six geographic areas with varying exposure to the conflict. A questionnaire was administered in interview format to collect information about the participants' demographic characteristics, experiences of the conflict, perceived psychological functioning, exposure to violence associated with the conflict, exposure to domestic violence during and after the conflict, and their coping strategies.

Results: Of the women, 89% had to leave their homes during the conflict because of fear or worry about safety. Of the 310 participants, 39% reported at least one encounter with violence perpetrated by soldiers, 27% reported at least one incident of domestic abuse during the conflict, and 13% reported at least one incident after the conflict perpetrated by their husbands or other family members. Women's self-reported negative mental health scores were positively correlated with the violence associated with the conflict and with domestic violence during and after the conflict. Women who reported that they did not know how to cope or had just tried to forget about their experiences reported more frequent domestic violence exposure during the conflict and had higher negative mental health outcomes associated with the conflict than did those who reported using active strategies.

Conclusions: During armed conflict, domestic violence is also likely to increase. Therefore, when investigating the psychological impact of war on women, both forms of violence exposure should be considered. The use of active coping strategies may help in reducing psychological distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lebanon / epidemiology
  • Life Change Events
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Warfare*
  • Women's Health*