Domestic violence is a pressing concern that can affect more than direct survivors. Its effects echo throughout communities, impacting everyone from children to local businesses and even influencing future generations.
It can be valuable to explore these wide-ranging consequences, from economic setbacks to the mental health crisis, while highlighting hopeful new mental health treatment developments. New approaches to recovery can offer survivors and their loved ones a safer, more convenient way to seek support and guidance.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence, often disguised in secrecy and silence, is a form of abuse that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, background, or socioeconomic status. At its core, it involves dynamics of power and control. Below are a few types of abuse:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse involves actions like hitting, slapping, pushing, blocking, or any other act causing physical harm.
- Emotional and psychological abuse: Emotional abuse may involve verbal attacks, humiliation, intimidation, and consistent criticism. It can erode one's self-worth and confidence over time.
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse involves forcing or coercing a partner into sexual acts without consent. It's not limited to physical acts and can include derogatory name-calling or other forms of sexual humiliation.
- Financial abuse: Financial abuse involves controlling any entry to financial resources, like not allowing a partner to work or withholding money, restricting their freedom and choices.
- Digital abuse: Abusive partners may use technology, like texting or social media, to stalk, harass, or intimidate their partners.
How Common Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is common. One-third of all women, one-quarter of all men, and over 10 million adults in the US experience domestic abuse annually.
Historically, it has been stereotyped that domestic violence only happens in certain families or communities. However, abuse knows no boundaries. It can occur in any relationship, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, or orientation. Some people may also believe it's easy for survivors to leave a person who acts in abusive ways, but factors like fear, financial dependence, or concern for children can make it complex.
Understanding domestic violence is often the first step in combating it. Recognizing its complicated nature can help individuals identify signs early and support those affected.
The Impacts Of Domestic Violence On Society
Domestic violence is often a silent epidemic characterized by a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship. As such, it is a personal issue and a societal concern with vast implications. This issue, deeply rooted in control and power dynamics, goes beyond personal boundaries, affecting the systems in power. Some of the broader impacts of domestic violence include the following.
Domestic violence often affects a survivor's ability to make money. The aftermath of abuse, whether physical injuries or emotionally taxing court appointments, frequently compels them to take time off work. This absenteeism doesn't cost money in the short term but also affects their long-term job prospects and career growth. From a business and public health perspective, an employee grappling with domestic violence might result in lower overall productivity. Their frequent absences can cause disruptions, and there's a cascading effect on teamwork and project timelines. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 21% to 60% of individuals lose their jobs for reasons related to domestic violence.
The health implications of domestic violence aren't just physical. While emergency care for injuries is an evident cost, the longer-term mental health support survivors may use is another significant expense. Counseling, therapy, and medication for trauma-related conditions add up, leading to higher overall healthcare spending. Research has proven that domestic violence can cost survivors thousands of dollars over their lifetime, sometimes totaling over $100,000.
Intervening in domestic violence cases demands a consistent and well-designed legal framework. From policing to court proceedings, the expenses accumulate. Protective services, such as shelters and helplines, also require funding to offer survivors a haven and the resources to rebuild their lives. These public health costs can total billions of dollars for the public.
A home, ideally a child's safe space, can become a place of dread when domestic violence occurs. Kids exposed to toxic environments often confront confusion, anxiety, guilt, and fear. They might internalize these experiences, which can manifest as nightmares or unwarranted guilt. Children who witness domestic violence are also at a heightened risk of experiencing or perpetrating it themselves.
The distress from witnessing domestic abuse is often reflected in a child's academic performance. Distracted and emotionally drained, they might find it difficult to concentrate, leading to a drop in grades. Their participation in extracurricular activities can also dwindle, limiting their holistic growth.
Childhood exposure to domestic violence can skew a child's understanding of relationships and conflict. They might become withdrawn, aggressive, or develop substance use challenges. These behavioral challenges can strain their relationships with peers and teachers.
If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.
Children often learn from their surroundings. If they grow up in homes where violence is common, they might see it as the usual way to manage problems or disagreements.
When these children grow up, they might end up in relationships where they are the survivors or the ones causing harm. This pattern can continue with their children and so on. It becomes a cycle that's hard to break because it's what has been "learned" over generations.
Support Options For Survivors
Reaching out for support is one way to cope with the effects of domestic violence. However, some survivors may hesitate to seek support due to fear of judgment or further harm. In these cases, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may be effective.
Online therapy can be applied from anywhere. Survivors might be trapped in their environment, or they may not have easy means of approach to transportation. With online therapy, they can receive support from their home or any safe space using a phone or computer. Individuals can have sessions without being seen entering a therapist's office and can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions.
Recent research underscores online therapy's growing effectiveness and acceptance, especially concerning domestic violence. When engaged in consistent online therapy, survivors of domestic violence reported significant reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Another survey revealed that nearly half of participants preferred online therapy due to its convenience and flexibility. In addition, retention rates were higher in online sessions than in traditional settings for this demographic. This consistency ensures survivors receive continuous and sustained support, which can be vital.
As you navigate these challenges, staying informed, compassionate, and proactive in seeking solutions can be crucial. If you want to connect with a provider, consider contacting a therapist online or in your area for further support and guidance.
What is a brief explanation of domestic violence?
Domestic violence refers to any kind of emotional, verbal, digital, financial, reproductive coercion, physical, or sexual abuse that occurs between individuals living in the same household. By contrast, intimate partner violence is used to describe any type of abuse occurring in romantic relationships.
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or sexual orientation, can experience domestic violence, however, violence against women ages 18 to 34 is most common.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides the following tips for recognizing abuse:
- Saying you don’t do anything right.
- Intense jealousy of other people in your life.
- Isolating you from friends or family.
- Making hurtful or insulting comments about you, which commonly occurs in front of other people.
- Calling you names.
- Interfering with your ability to make decisions. They may take away money or car keys or use intimidation to keep you from seeing other people, going to work, or attending school.
- Controlling your access to your money.
- Sexual violence or coercion.
- Threatening to harm you, your loved ones, or your pets.
- Causing damage to your property or belongings.
If you are concerned that you may be in an abusive relationship, you can receive domestic violence support services 24/7 by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or you can text START to 88788.
What are the problems caused by domestic violence?
Domestic and intimate partner violence can have serious physical health consequences. For example, the Institute for Health Policy and Leadership identified financial, sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse as risk factors for chronic pain, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and gynecological problems.
Abusive relationships can also lead to poor mental health outcomes, with survivors experiencing a heightened risk of school or workplace absenteeism, poor work performance, social isolation, risky behaviors, and financial insecurity. Mental disorders associated with experiencing abuse include substance use disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
How does domestic abuse impact society?
Emotional, physical, and sexual violence can have lasting impacts on survivors, perpetrators, family members, and society as a whole. According to a report from Case Western University, domestic violence costs the U.S. government approximately $55 billion annually, from reduced education and productivity, healthcare costs, criminal justice costs, and higher crime rates.
One in three women and one in four men experience physical assault or violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. Forbes estimates that the cost of domestic violence over a survivor's lifetime is $103,767 for women, and $23,414 for men, which adds to a total lifetime cost of $3.6 trillion.
How does domestic violence influence the lives of individuals?
According to the World Health Organization, domestic violence can have long lasting effects. For survivors, violence can increase the risk of:
- Death by homicide or suicide
- Injuries resulting from violence
- Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
- Miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birthweight
- Psychiatric disorders, including depressive disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic pain
- Perpetrating or experiencing further violence
Additionally, children who grow up in a household with violence may experience physical, emotional, or behavioral challenges as a result.
How does domestic violence affect the quality of life?
Experiencing domestic violence can lead to worse physical and psychological health, as well as reduced quality of life, productivity, and financial stability.
Among other things, abuse can lead to:
- Trust issues
- Feeling powerlessness
- Chronic stress
- Sleeping difficulties
- Self-harm, isolation, and avoidance
- Challenges with emotional regulation
These factors can interfere with daily functioning and impact quality of life.
What is the impact of violence on individuals?
Violence can cause lasting impact, though they vary based on age, gender, and type of violence. In general, people who’ve experienced or witnessed violence are at an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, suicidal ideation, and certain physical health conditions.
A large report on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) studied toxic stress in youth, finding that, compared to children with a low burden of ACEs, those with a high burden experienced an increased risk of cancer, substance use disorder, heart disease, depression, poor social functioning, aggression, and risky behaviors. It appears that these differences may result from structural brain changes, chronic inflammation, altered metabolism, and differences and microbiomes that develop in response to chronic stress.
How does domestic violence affect the victim mentally?
Survivors of abuse often experience:
- Chronic stress
- Social isolation
- Low self-worth
- Self-blame or internalization
- Anger or resentment towards oneself
Domestic violence can have lasting impacts, but many people can improve their mental and physical health with a combination of social support, talk therapy, and medical care.
What impact does violence have on women's lives?
Violence against women can have long-lasting implications for survivors, their children, communities, and society as a whole. Women who’ve survived violence may be at a higher risk of experiencing asthma, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis, heart disease, insomnia, sexual challenges, toxic stress, and weakened immune health. Survivors are also at an increased risk of substance use disorder, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
What can we do to stop violence?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prevention is one of the most effective strategies for tackling domestic violence. They suggest these six preventative approaches:
- Teaching young people about healthy relationship skills.
- Encourage people to act as allies.
- Recognize risk factors, such as family violence, and interupt them before someone engages in physical or sexual violence.
- Make environments safer.
- Provide economic support for families to thrive.
- Support survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence with a variety of physical and mental health services, housing, and protection.
The CDC provides domestic violence articles to learn more about prevention, resources, and national survey data.
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