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Why start such a network?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of sexualised violence is still considered a matter of marginal interest in many European countries. Even existing European networks and research groups investigating the mental implications of trauma and PTSD mostly focus on other aspects: their interests are mainly victims of war trauma, accidents, natural disasters or shooting rampages. Hardly any attention is paid to the fact that violence against women is a widespread violation of human rights in the very midst of our society. Another effect of treating the matter as a taboo is an inadequate care situation in Europe for women affected.

The organisations initiating the European Trauma Network already began in 2004 to carry out cross-national projects in order to improve help offers for women traumatised by violence. These projects were funded by the European Commission, as combatting gender-related violence is a task to be taken on both by individual member countries and the European Union as a whole, and action is in fact being taken. Among other efforts, the EU's Daphne Initiative stands for this and is, among other activities, providing the funds to found the European Trauma Network. From the experience gathered in the course of these projects, the idea of setting up the Trauma Network emerged.

A change in attitudes and policies is required to realise that violence against women does not merely affect the individual victim and the individual perpetrator, it is a pan-European social reality that makes women ill. To promote such adjustment, intense exchange between all professions in contact with women affected by violence, research circles and decision-makers in politics is necessary, at the national as well as at the European level.