Domestic Violence: How to Understand and Define It


In general terms, domestic violence can be defined as incidents of aggressive conduct, violence, or abuse amongst people who are or who have been in a close or reliant connection or relationship not considering the sexual category.

According to Astbury, Atkinson, Duke, Easteal, Kurrle, Tait & Turner (2), in the case where “home” represents emotional safety and security alongside being shelter, at that time a child, grown-up person, or an old person affected by domestic violence feels some sort of homelessness within him or her. Domestic violence happens across the lifetime and across most cultures. Women are mostly the ones who are prone to emotional, sexual, or physical violence. Most children can as well come across violence from a person with whom they are familiar or be witnesses to domestic violence in the families they belong.

The Effects of Domestic Violence

In order to look at the effects of domestic violence in a more clear way, we have to consider the specific groups of people who are affected the most. In this paper, we consider three groups which include children, women, and elderly people.

Effects on Children

The children can be in danger of witnessing or experiencing domestic violence in their families or those families with which they are familiar. The doer is always someone who is regarded as one responsible for providing care or be trustworthy to the child. These young people can turn out to be direct victims of physical assault or get injured in the process of their seeking to offer defense to another member of the family and in most cases, the mother or by trying to stop their parents from engaging in a battle. It is turning out to be quite true that domestic violence results in the same effects to most of the children in both the cases where they are victims or witnesses. A distinct link between child abuse and domestic violence has been pointed out by several people. An estimate has been made that those children who come from families where domestic violence is common are more prone to abuse or neglect by 150 percent than those from families without domestic violence (Astbury et al., 7).

The behavioral effects and psychological effects of domestic violence on children include performing poorly in school, temper tantrums, rebellious behavior, guilt, blaming themselves for the conflicts between the parents, isolating themselves from their friends, running away from home, self-destructive behavior, depression, theft, eating too much and portraying symptoms of excess worry. The violence practiced by a person who is supposed to be viewed by the child as one to be trusted results in destroying the child’s capacity to trust other people and raises the danger of victimization in his or her life later.

Effects on women

Long-term effects on the abused women may include worry disorders and attacks by panic, a disorder in feeding patterns, chronic disorders, dependence on drugs and alcohol, having family relationships that are strained, dysfunctional sexual life, and absolute poverty. Severe cases can result in someone attempting to commit suicide (Moser 8).

More so, in the short term, those women who might be victims of domestic violence may be in danger of miscarrying, incurring stillborns, and infant deaths. In a particular study(Moser, 9), it was established that those children who are borne by mothers who had earlier on or currently been victims of domestic violence had a greater likelihood to experience malnourishment and were more likely to have not undergone immunization against diseases that occur during childhood.

Astbury et al., (11) further note that there are a number of unwanted pregnancies cases or those that have not been planned for among those women who are victims of domestic violence. Pregnancy is a period of high risk and the abdomen is the region that is mostly targeted especially in those women who are pregnant. A survey carried out in Australia made a discovery that among all women who reported their cases as being victims of domestic violence, about forty percent of them were reported to be pregnant at the time the incidence occurred. Twenty percent of these women, it was established, experienced domestic violence for the first time at the time they were pregnant although this could have occurred prior to some sort of abuse before the pregnancy period.

Those women who may be the victims of domestic violence at the time of pregnancy more often get very little or delayed antenatal care. These women are in danger of being exposed to the poor gaining of weight, several infections, carrying very low birth weight babies, and feeling postnatal depression. They are as well more likely to involve themselves in destructive behaviors that can harm their health like excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, and drug and substance abuse.

Effects on the Elderly People

The types of domestic violence to elder people include the isolation of these people, being abused sexually, physical abuse, financial abuse, and emotional abuse. The abuse of older people in the form of domestic violence that came to the notice of the public just in recent times (Astbury et al., 14). However, it still remains a problem that is greatly hidden. Many studies have shown that the number of old women who fall victim to domestic violence is relatively equal to the number of old men who are the victims of the same. This contrasts with the trend that is observed among the relatively younger people where the number of women who fall victim to domestic violence is very much higher than those of men.

The main cause of domestic violence among elderly people is in most cases associated with them being dependent on other people in the family as a reason for their physical or mental incapacity. The physical effects may include physical body injuries and the consequences of neglect like malnutrition and failure to get reliable medication. This abuse may also result in psychological effects. The feelings acquired as a result of domestic violence include a feeling by these people of being very powerless; disgrace at having to accept that the abuse is happening at the hands of intimate family members, fear of revenge from the abuser, and especially fright of institutionalizing if the abuse is reported. Such worries enhance the victim’s unwillingness to report violence, often instilling in him or her self-created loneliness. The abuser may apply control by use of finances or property of the older person in an improper way or misuse of power of attorney or may take the type of abandon whereby the basic needs of life are held back by one who gives care (Astbury et al., 18).


As the discussion above indicates, there are several effects of domestic violence on various groups of people in society and they are very much destructive to social life. Measures need to be taken in order to reverse this trend. Those who engage in abusing others should face the law and be rewarded accordingly in order for them to serve as a deterrent to others who might be potential participants or do engage in abusing others but are often not reported. Those who have been victims or who are victims are supposed to be encouraged to report the cases and also seek counseling from experts in order for them to revert to their normal life.


Astbury, Jill., Atkinson, Judy., Duke E. Janet, Easteal L. Patricia, Kurrle E. Susan, Tait R. Paul., & Turner, Jane. The impact of domestic violence on individuals. 2000. Web.

Moser Peter, Effects of Domestic Violence, 2007. Web.

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