Sociological Effects

Exposure to violence within an individuals immediate social environment can produce temporary or permanent changes in that individual's physical health and emotional state (Adam, Glick, Shaprio, Umberson, 443).

For those women who have children, domestic violence can severely impair a parent's ability to nurture the development of their children.  Mothers who are abused may be depressed or preoccupied with the violence.  They may be emotionally withdrawn or numb, irritable or have feelings of hopelessness.  The result can be a parent who is less emotionally available to their children or unable to care for their children's basic needs.  Battering fathers are less affectionate, less available, and less rational in dealing with their children.  Studies even suggest that "battered women may use more punitive child-rearing strategies or exhibit aggression toward their children." (Newton)

In nearly all cases of abuse, women report feelings of intense worthlessness and inadequacy. These feelings, although a result of abuse, transcend to other areas of a victim's life, affecting her sense of self-worth and her ability to manage her day-to-day life. Such feelings of sheer worthlessness and helplessness often prevent women from seeking help or from telling others about their experience.

Women who are abused may withdraw from social activities, friends, or family. They may choose to no longer participate in racial, ethnic, religious, or community activities. This isolation may be the result of threats and manipulation by her abuser or from a desire to keep the abusive nature of her relationship secret. It may also be the result of shame. Unfortunately, after telling others of their abuse, some women have experienced ridicule. Their abuse was minimized, condoned, or excused. This very often leaves women feeling alone, without immediate resources and support, and believing they are inherently flawed. If a woman has left an abusive relationship, she may avoid activities and social situations that might bring her into contact with her former abusive partner. She may also avoid situations in which there are likely to be mutual friends who are unsupportive or neutral.

Women At Work

Do not assume the effects of domestic violence are not confined to the home; domestic violence encroaches upon a victim's workplace when her abuser attempts to stalk, harass, injure, or threaten her at work. These behaviors not only endanger the victim, they also put her co-workers, clients, and members of the general public at risk.

Domestic violence in the workplace is costly to both the victim and to her employer. A victim may suffer lost work, lost wages, and poor performance appraisals. Her abuser may threaten her via phone, mail, fax, or email, and such disturbances affect employees' ability to fulfill the requirements of their jobs. The risk of job loss because of an abuser's continual harassment is very often a barrier to leaving an abusive relationship.

Other long-term effects of domestic violence on women who have been abused may include:

  • anxiety
  • death
  • dissociative states
  • drug and alcohol dependence
  • eating disorders
  • emotional "over-reactions" to stimuli
  • general emotional numbing
  • malnutrition
  • panic attacks
  • poor adherence to medical recommendations
  • poverty
  • self neglect
  • sexual dysfunction
  • somatization disorders
  • strained family relationships
  • suicide attempts
  • an inability to adequately respond to the needs of their children