4. Effects of Domestic Violence

The effects of violence on a victim’s health are far-reaching and devastating. Women who are battered may suffer from a variety of medical problems, from depression to chronic pain; they may also be at an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies. They may need to miss significant amounts of work due to medical problems. Domestic violence may be fatal. Worldwide, 40-70% of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to take their own lives. Domestic violence also contributes to other forms of violence against women; women who experience violence at home may be more willing to look for and accept an uncertain and potentially risky job abroad, placing them in danger of being trafficked.

At the same time, however, women do not experience domestic violence in identical ways. Women may be more or less vulnerable to particular kinds of abuse, and may experience difficulty in accessing legal remedies or obtaining protection from the abuse because of their ethnicity or economic status. Culture may also affect how and where women seek assistance, as well as how they experience and respond to assistance. Intervention and advocacy efforts must recognize and adapt to these differences.

Domestic violence also has significant consequences for children, family, friends, co-workers, and the community. Family and friends may themselves be targeted by the abuser in retaliation for helping a woman leave a violent relationship or find assistance. Children in homes where domestic violence occurs may be witnesses to abuse, may themselves be abused, and may suffer harm “incidental” to the domestic abuse.

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