According to statistics, women in the United Kingdom are far more likely to be abused by their partner than men are. Whilst men can also be victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their partners, the information on this page is primarily about the experiences of women, because they are the most badly affected group. However, many of these experiences are shared by all of those who have been abused by a partner.
What are the physical effects of domestic violence?
It is impossible to estimate the physical effects of domestic violence, as each abuser chooses to hurt their victim in their own way. Many men will hurt women in places that they know are less likely to bruise or where the bruises are unlikely to be seen. However, 2 women die every week from domestic violence in the United Kingdom.
Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent every year by the National Health Service on treating the physical impact of domestic violence. Studies suggest that only about 18% of domestic abuse survivors seek medical support in the first year of abuse, and around 56% need treatment in the second year of abuse.
As well as hurting the woman themselves, domestic violence can hurt or kill an unborn child. Pregnant women can miscarry because of the physical violence or emotional stress.
What are the emotional effects to domestic violence?
Women who experience domestic violence can develop a range of emotional problems as a result of repeated domestic abuse. This abuse is often intended to wear down the abused person’s self-esteem, so that they become emotionally dependant on the person who is abusing them. Women are also likely to go into denial about what is happening.
Other mental effects that an abused woman can feel include; anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, nightmares, agitation, and a sense of isolation. Psychologists have actually drawn parallels between the mental effects that torture victims suffer with the mental effects that domestic violence sufferers experience.
Women who have been on the receiving end of domestic violence may also experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms can continue to affect the woman even after she has left the abusive relationship.
Social and economic effects for women
Women who are experiencing domestic violence will often become isolated from their friends or social network. They are likely to make excuses not to go out with friends, even on special occasions. They may also cut contact with their friends, either by their own decision or on the insistence of the abusive partner.
Billions of pounds are lost every year because of women having to take time off work because of domestic violence incidents. Women are also more likely to lose their job or leave their job when they are experiencing violence. This can leave them financially dependent on the person who is abusing them. This can make it even harder for them to leave the relationship and end the cycle of abuse.
Are abused women weak?
No, abused women are not weak. Many continue to endure domestic violence because they believe that they do not have other options.
Women who endure domestic violence show a huge amount of strength and resourcefulness in the way that they live their lives. Those who also take care of dependants must also develop strong, intelligent strategies to help to support their children (or others who they take care of) during an incredibly difficult period.
It takes a huge amount of courage for a woman to escape from domestic violence, especially if she needs to bring her children with her. Finding the right support is essential for domestic abuse sufferers.