Groups » Domestic Violence against Women: Causes, Effects and Prevention

All too frequently, we hear about domestic violence against women from different forms of media. Our society is bursting with violence and nowhere is this eruption more intense than behind the doors of our homes. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one out of every three women in the United States has experienced some form of extreme physical violence in her lifetime. Unfortunately, most domestic violence incidents go unreported. So, the actual number of incidents may be much higher. Although men can also suffer at the hands of an abusive partner, most victims of domestic abuse are women.

What Causes Domestic Violence?

Experts point to several causes of domestic violence. However, the need abusers feel to exert dominance over their partner is the underlying common factor in all these causes. Abusers may feel the need to control their partner because of low self-esteem and difficulty in controlling strong emotions such as anger. Usually, men try to dominate women through physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Experts believe that domestic violence stems from a combination of individual and environmental factors. However, no cause for violence against women is justifiable.

1. Individual Factors

In quite a few cases, the abusers may have an un-diagnosed personality disorder or psychological disorder. Low self-esteem is the most common cause of domestic violence. However, economic hardship, unemployment, and desperation when partner threatens to leave can also set off a bout of violence. Research shows that women from lower income groups are more likely to experience domestic violence. Drugs and alcohol also contribute to violent behavior. A drunk is unable to control his anger leading to impulsive violent outbursts.

2. Environmental Factors

A range of environmental factors may be responsible for violence against women. Abusers may learn to mistreat women from their family members, community, and cultural influences. Boys who learn that women are inferior to men are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. Most abusers who experienced or witnessed domestic violence frequently may learn to believe that violence is the only way to resolve a conflict.

Effects of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can seriously affect the emotional and physical well-being of a woman. In fact, it can be fatal in quite a few cases. Nearly 40% of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. More often than not, domestic violence survivors suffer from several psychosomatic illnesses, eating disorders, chronic pain, emotional stress, and mental disorders.

1. Short-term Consequences

Cuts, scrapes and bruises, fractures, and dislocated bones are the most common consequences of domestic abuse. In several cases, women suffer severe physical injuries which may result in impairment, including loss of hearing or vision. They are also susceptible to other health problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, miscarriage or premature delivery.

2. Long-term Consequences

Usually, the abuser tears down victim's self-esteem over time, which can lead to long-term psychological consequences. He can also convince his victim that she provoked his violent behavior in some way. But, the victim may have nothing to do with the abuse and only the abuser can be responsible for his behavior.

Abused women often miss their work due to physical injuries, which may cause them to lose their jobs. Financial dependence makes it difficult for them to leave their abusive spouse. Quite a few survivors of serious and long-term domestic violence suffer from battered woman syndrome. It is a mental disorder which almost always leads to irrational fears, which may cause the victim to become passive and feel helpless.

Domestic violence can seriously affect a woman's mental stability. Most victims may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may experience nightmares, severe anxiety, and stress. Depression is also common among domestic abuse victims. They may experience feelings associated with sadness and loneliness for long periods of time. It can affect the normal behavior of a person, resulting in loss of interest in social activities. It also affects the decision-making ability of a person. In quite a few cases, severe depression may lead to suicide.

Coping with the effects of domestic violence can be mind-boggling. Nearly all abuse victims start to self-medicate or use drugs or alcohol to help themselves cope with the overwhelming feelings. This behavior may also increase the risk of suicide.

Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women

The best way to end violence against women is to stop it from happening in the first place. However, addressing the root causes of domestic violence is not as easy as it sounds. Gender-based discrimination and social norms are the major causes of violence against women and girls. Most abusers learn to mistreat women and girls at a young age most probably from a family member. Therefore, educating young boys to treat girls and women with respect and promoting gender equality should begin early in life.

Today, most social and legal resources are devoted to supporting the abused women. Although it is important to help the abused, more often than not the perpetrators responsible for such heinous crime can easily walk away. The system and the society need to address domestic violence against women for what it is, a serious crime. If necessary, domestic violence laws should be amended to punish the perpetrators. Nonetheless, effective implementation of these laws is also crucial.

If someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you should alert the law authorities immediately. Let the abused person know that you are around to help her whether she needs help getting legal information, joining a local domestic violence program, or finding a safe place through a battered women's shelter.

You can also work in collaboration with a local domestic violence shelter to educate your community and neighborhood about the impact, causes, and prevention of violence against women. Working with the community, men and boys in particular, can help eradicate this problem. The role of non-governmental organizations and support groups is also crucial.


Domestic violence against women can take numerous forms such as physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. The abusers often use violent actions to intimidate, manipulate and humiliate the victim. Several factors can contribute to domestic violence against women such as low self-esteem, gender inequality, and stereotype. The physical and psychological trauma stemming from the violent behavior of the abuser can lead to severe health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The best way to eliminate this problem is to prevent it from happening by addressing the root causes and educating boys at an early age.

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