Consequences of domestic violence

Domestic violence maims and kills. It causes an array of health problems ranging from physical and sexual injuries to psychological and psychiatric disorders.

Furthermore victims-survivors have to cope with other social and economic problems resulting from such violence.

The World Health Organisation, in a study carried out in 1996 entitled 'Violence Against Women', identified the psychological and physical impact of domestic violence on the health of the victims-survivors. They came up with a categorisation of the health consequences of violence against women according to the degree of the outcome mostly whether the outcome was fatal or non fatal.

Nonfatal outcomes
Physical health outcomes Mental health outcomes
External and internal injuries Depression
Gynaecological problems including unwanted pregnancy and miscarriage Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS Low self esteem
Pelvic inflammatory disease and chronic pelvic pain Sexual dysfunction
Headaches Anxiety and Fear
Self injurious behaviours Obsessive compulsive disorder
Permanent disabilities Eating disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome Emotional withdrawal
Fatal outcomes
Homicide Suicide
Trauma Maternal mortality

Source: Domestic Violence against women and girls, Innocenti digest, no.6, June 2000, UNICEF

Other consequences of domestic violence are:

  • Divorce and separation often bring about socio-economic problems such as homelessness because the victim-survivor has to flee her home with her children
  • Loss of employment and earnings: The victim-survivor often either loses her job following frequent absenteeism because of injuries sustained or she has to quit her job as a safety measure or because she has moved to a place of safety, far away from her employment
  • Denial of basic human rights to physical, sexual and mental integrity and to safety and security
  • Negative impact on parenting behaviours which effects on the development of children