Dating violence connected to eating disorders

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Également disponible en français sous le titre : Ravaler sa douleur : Étude des liens entre l'anorexie, la boulimie et la violence contre les femmes et les filles The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Health Canada. May their lives and deaths offer a call for more attention and more resources for help.” Shelley Moore Executive Summary This report examines the links between eating disorders and violence against women and girls.

Contents may not be reproduced for commercial purposes, but any other reproduction, with acknowledgements, is encouraged. It is based on information gathered from published literature as well as consultations with community workers, health practitioners, and mental health professionals.

In 1997, Brown observed that “over the last 5 years, the scientific literature has become polarized, with a heated, and sometimes vitriolic, debate played out between recognized experts, within and across countries.” Whereas some researchers espouse a causal relationship between abuse and eating disorders (Everill and Waller, 1995a), others have characterized the link as neither special nor specific (Pope and Hudson, 1992) or as coincidental (Finn et al., 1986).

Most theorists, however, have argued that the relationship is a complex one that should not be over-simplified (Brown, 1997; Welch and Fairburn, 1996; Wonderlich et al., 1997).

This publication may be provided in alternate formats upon request. “Swallowing the Hurt” has been designed for use by frontline workers, health care and social service professionals, educators, and researchers who offer services directly for or who may interact with women and girls experiencing eating disorders or violence.

Both the service providers and the advisory panel for this project emphasized a greater need for “cross-training” between the fields of disordered eating and violence.

Both the literature and most of the service providers contacted suggest that sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional types of abuse are contributing factors in a complex and multideterminant model of anorexia and bulimia.

The research suggests that the connection between violence and eating disorders may be more pronounced under certain circumstances: food has been used as a weapon of abuse; a woman has been abused by more than one person; disclosure has been punished or disbelieved; multiple forms of abuse have been experienced; or the woman or girl feels a greater sense of powerlessness or shame.

Much of the inconsistency in the literature has been attributed to methodological and interpretive difficulties.

Widely varying definitions of abuse, and particularly child sexual abuse, have made comparisons among studies and conclusions difficult (Dansky et al., 1997; Miller, 1996).

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