The Impact of Domestic Violence on Women’s Mental Health

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Women’s Mental Health

Domestic Violence

We should consider Domestic Violence as a major issue because of its devastating consequences on women’s mental health. According to data, every 1 in 3 women globally endure physical or sexual violence in their lives, and around 30% of women reported physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. The true percentage of domestic violence cases is not known because most women are afraid to report due to the fear of the authority, lack of access to resources, monetary dependence on the authority, and sometimes the lack of awareness about domestic violence.

Understanding the definition of Domestic Violence

Any act of physical, sexual, or psychological damage inflicted to any individual by their partner or any authoritative figure in the household, is considered as domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence. Even though individuals from any background, regardless of their gender, race, or financial status, face domestic violence, women are primarily affected by violence in their households. Trivializing this issue can be detrimental to various aspects of mental health and lead to long-term distress.

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Factors Responsible for Domestic Violence
  • Traditional beliefs on gender roles and societal expectations on an exhibition of power by the male gender.
  • The Financial dependence of women on their spouse/father/other male authority in their house.
  • Regular and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol or other substance abuse can increase the risk of domestic violence
  • Reinforcement of Aggressive behavior in men can sustain the violent behavior imposed on women.
  • Lack of education, unemployment, exposure to adverse past experiences.
Violent behaviour can take place in many forms; such as:
  • Physical violence: Deliberately hurting the individual physically by hitting, slapping, or any other way of physical aggression.
  • Psychological abuse: Any form of manipulation inflicted on women, threats, yelling, or criticizing the individual is recognized as psychological or emotional abuse, which is a part of domestic violence.
  • Discriminating against women: Any form of gender discrimination, including son preference, unequal resource distribution, and excluding women from financial resources, are addressed as domestic violence.
  • Sexual abuse: Any sexual behavior that proceeds without consent and includes coercive sexual activities despite the resistance, that make the individual incapacitated for the time being.

How Domestic Violence is Affecting Women’s Mental Health?

Domestic violence not only imposes bruises and scars on women physically but also causes various psychological and emotional challenges including diverse behavioral difficulties, depression, anxiety, trauma-related disorders, sleeping disorders, poor self-esteem, and substance abuse.


Persistent exposure to violence can invoke a feeling of hopelessness in women. A sense of worthlessness and powerlessness can lead to major depressive disorder, which eventually triggers various behavioral concerns such as less intake of food or overeating, disturbance in sleeping, and engaging in self-harming behavior. The fear can sustain and exert a long-term depressive episode, if not addressed with treatment.


Prolonged contact with the abuser can also raise anticipation of the violence, leading to anxiety. The stress level elevated by the threat and unpredictability contributes to triggering the symptoms of anxiety which may lead to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The individual may experience excessive worry, irritability, restlessness, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms, including rapid heartbeat, headaches, panic attacks, and shortness of breath. These can manifest differently in different individuals.

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Poor self-esteem:

Women who confront domestic violence regularly, often lose their sense of worth and start to self-blame. Constant exposure to criticism leads to low self-esteem, guilt, and shame. Lack of emotional support leaves them alone in the void of low self-confidence and they often find it difficult to trust in new relationships.


Those women who have experienced severe traumatic incidents develop PTSD, a trauma-related disorder exhibit the following symptoms; repeated flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness, avoidance of talking about the traumatic events, and severe anxiety. 40 to 60% of women who have endured domestic violence suffer from PTSD.

Substance Abuse:

Women who have survived domestic violence tend to be at high risk of engaging in drug abuse. To cope with the trauma and emotional turmoil, individuals engage in substance abuse as a coping mechanism. When individuals cannot find any way to ask for help due to fear of judgment or being stigmatized, they resort to seeking other ways of abusing substances to attain temporary relief.

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How do women withstand domestic violence for their own healthy mental and physical well-being?

  • Recognize the pattern of the abusive relationship. It is a crucial step in to fight against violence. At first, it may be difficult to accept it but seeking legal assistance for protection would be a great help for the women.
  • Engage with support groups and a shared community to promote emotional safety and reduce the feeling of being alone.
  • One must take care of empowering women with education and assisting them in achieving financial independence as one of the most significant measures.
  • Get familiar with individual and group therapy to address the trauma and other mental health consequences attached to violence against women.
  • It is necessary to get in touch with any Women’s support centre and inform them about the violent situation.
  • Practice self-care and exercise to protect self-esteem and facilitate growth.

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To break the cycle of domestic violence, one should make the brave move to come out of the abusive relationship. It is crucial to know various adaptive skills to cope with the adverse psychological impact of domestic violence. Asking for the help of professionals and being part of support groups, is essential for effective consequences.


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