Psychological effect of domestic violence

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Psychological effect of domestic violence

Domestic violence is a grave combination of violence and abusive behavior that adults exhibit against their partners. Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Statistics has shown that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are victims of domestic violence.

Domestic violence comes in various forms. Abuse could be; physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Example includes, marital rape, beating, choking, female genital mutilation, acid throwing, murders like honor killings, bride burning, killing of twins etc. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples that are married, living together or dating, heterosexual, homosexual relationships and ex partners.

Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.  Domestic violence also takes place in both

Domestic and family violence can be difficult to identify because many cases are not reported to health professionals or legal authorities.


Domestic violence can be categorized into;

  • Intimate partner violence typically includes sexual or physical violence, psychological aggression, and stalking. This may include former or current intimate partners.
  • Child abuse involves the emotional, sexual, physical, or neglect of a child under 18 by a parent, custodian, or caregiver that results in potential harm, harm, or a threat of harm.
  • Elder abuse is a failure to act or an intentional act by a caregiver that causes or creates a risk of harm to an elder. Forced “suicide” or homicide of widows or widowers for economic reasons; sexual, physical and psychological abuse

Reasons for domestic violence

  • Lack of self-confidence: there is a link between lack of self-confidence and the risk of being abused by ones partner and being an abuser. The abused mostly believe that they are not worthy of being loved and no one else might want them, so they stay in the relationship while on the part of the abuser he or she hides her lack of confidence by belittling and humiliating their partners.
  • The need to be in control: abusive partners feel the need to be in control of every aspect of their partner’s life, including their travels, friends, jobs etc.
  • Poor or no academic accomplishments: Individuals who have poor academic achievement often battle with self-esteem issues. Potential abusers often display aggressive behavior as a way of “distracting” others from what they view as personal lack of achievement. Those who are being abused, on the other hand, may feel trapped because they think they are unable to provide for themselves of their children. Therefore, they may stay in an abusive relationship as a means of financial support.
  • History of being abused: without any psychological intervention, the circle of abuse tends to be unbreakable. Those who survive abuse tend to experience abuse again because they feel it is okay and normal. Due to that mindset they do not stand up for themselves while those who become abusers are usually so angry and frustrated from the experience of previously being abused, they also feel it is normal.
  • Cultural beliefs/traditional viewpoints: It may seem odd to think that culture or traditions lend to the risk of domestic violence, but many cultures have deep-rooted beliefs that men are superior to women. In some instances, those men may resort to domestic violence to gain control of their spouse or children. Cultural traditions do not trump laws designed to protect people.
  • Mental disorder: As mentioned above, the role of mental illness within the cycle of domestic violence is prevalent. Individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, may go through times of highs and lows when they are unable to control their anger. These people may become aggressors and abuse others. This is especially true if they are not following a medication regimen. Some people who experience depression or other mood disorders are often more likely to be abused.
  • Illicit drug use: People who abuse drugs or alcohol are more susceptible to be abusive. A person’s need for acceptance or money to support their habit may cause them to be vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Being aware of those at risk and the signs that indicate the presence of domestic violence will help decrease the chances of entering or staying in an abusive situation.

Psychological effects of domestic violence

The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that psychological trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event” which interferes with the individual’s ability to function as he or she would under normal circumstances. While the psychological impact of a particular incident varies from person to person, most individuals experience increased levels of emotional and psychological distress after going through traumatic events. However, the reason for not seeking help is not always clear. It may be as a result of Fear of retaliation from the abusive partner or a Feeling of shame and embarrassment, especially among male victims. Due to the lack of emotional support, heightened fear, anxiety, depression, anger, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social withdrawal, the use of illicit drugs, alcohol dependence, eating disorder, antisocial personality disorders, non-affective psychoses, suicidal considerations non-affective psychosis.

It is clear that the psychological and emotional wounds of domestic violence are devastating. They can potentially haunt victims for many years and rob them of the ability to live a rich, full life. These wounds are completely undetectable by x-rays and too often go untreated.


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