How does violence affect women and children?

Domestic violence has many negative effects on women and children, and the impact is never just physical.

Domestic violence affects all parts of a victim’s life, such as her physical and mental health, her emotional wellbeing, her financial status, her relationships and friendships, her employment, and cultural connections.

Effects of psychological/emotional abuse

Effects of psychological/emotional abuse for women and children include:

  • physical injury
  • living in constant fear
  • feeling worthless
  • low self-esteem and loss of confidence
  • depression
  • feeling out of control
  • a distorted sense of reality
  • feeling suicidal/ committing suicide/self-harm
  • violent thoughts or actions
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • mental illness
  • anxiety and worry
  • inability to hold down work
  • feeling whakama/shame, guilt or embarrassment
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • bad relationships between you and your children
  • eating and sleeping problems
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • loss of energy, feeling apathetic
  • loss of community and culture
  • self-blame
  • hurting others that are close
  • copying controlling and violent behaviour.

Effects of physical and sexual abuse

Effects of physical and sexual abuse for women and children include:

  • Death
  • Permanent disability (blindness, deafness, epilepsy, loss of mobility)
  • Hospitalisation for broken bones, concussion, head and spinal injuries, gynaecological problems
  • Chronic, long-term illness
  • Losing an unborn baby, or having a baby with birth defects
  • Infertility
  • Treatment for broken teeth, cuts, headaches, concussion
  • Bruises, pain, trauma
  • Isolation (staying home so people don't see the bruises; being avoided by others)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Unwanted pregnancies
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Eating and sleeping disorders
  • Hating or being ashamed of your body
  • Not being able to have healthy sexual relationships
  • As an adult, not being able to enjoy sex.

Fresh Start: A Practical Guide for Women Wanting to be Free from Abuse