Effects of Abuse

Forty-five per cent of domestic violence results in physical injury. The psychological effects of this can be far-reaching: eighty-five per cent of abuse victims indicate that they have experienced some type of negative emotional effect including anger, fear, becoming less trusting, suffering from lowered self-esteem, depression, anxiety, shame and guilt. In order to combat these effects, twenty-five per cent of these victims report having used alcohol, drugs or medication.


Key facts:

  • Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of human rights.
  • A lack of access to education and opportunity, and low social status in communities are linked to violence against women.
  • Violence by an intimate partner is one of the most common forms of violence against women.
  • A wide range of physical, mental, sexual and reproductive, and maternal health problems can result from violence against women.
  • Many women do not seek help or report their experiences when violence occurs.


The United Nations defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts and coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

There are many forms of violence against women, including:

  • sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner;
  • physical or sexual abuse by family members or others;
  • sexual harassment and abuse by authority figures (such as teachers, police officers or employers);
  • trafficking for forced labour or sex;
  • traditional practices such as forced or child marriages, dowry-related violence;
  • honour killings, when women are murdered in the name of family honour; and
  • systematic sexual abuse in conflict situations.


The effects of abuse don't stop once the hitting, yelling or put-downs stop. Some of the effects of abuse are listed below.


How Does Abuse of Women Affect Society?

The social and economic costs of violence against women are enormous and have ripple effects throughout society. Women may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities, and limited ability to care for themselves and their children.


Prevention / Response

More evaluation is needed to assess the effectiveness of violence prevention measures. Interventions with promising results include increasing education and opportunities for women and girls, improving their self-esteem and negotiating skills, and reducing gender inequities in communities.

Other efforts with positive success include: work with teenagers to reduce dating violence; supportive programs for children who have witnessed intimate partner violence; mass public education campaigns; and work with men and boys to change attitudes about gender inequities and the acceptability of violence.

Advocacy for victims, better awareness of violence and its consequences among health workers, and wider knowledge of available resources for abused women (including legal assistance, housing and child care), can lessen the consequences of violence.

There are many people and organizations working towards the prevention and elimination of violence against women.


[Refer to Resources Section]