Psychological Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

Violence against women is one of the issues that persist in entire world. All kinds of violence against women cause a strong psychological impact on the victims. It is extremely important to understand the type of trauma that the victim had after experience of violence and with the correct psychological support, find the appropriate therapy. However, not all countries in the world have the same socio-cultural, economic, and political background. The problem of violence against women has seen a significant increase both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the most severe cases, it has led to a significant increase in the numbers of homicides and suicides. The report by WHO shows the number of murders and the murder rates in different parts of the world in the year 2012. The number of homicides was already quite high before COVID (Table 1). 

(Table1: Report by WHO shows the number of murders and the murder rates in different parts of the world in the year 2012)

According to the report from World Health Organization (2018), approximately 1 in 3 women, or 30%, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or non-partner. Lifetime estimates of intimate partner violence range from 20% in the Western Pacific to 33% in the WHO African region. Furthermore, about 38% of all murders of women globally are committed by intimate partners, and 6% of women report experiencing sexual assault by someone other than a partner. Violence can change various aspects of an individual’s life, including their future, daily habits, behavior, and mental well-being.

The article written by Vibha Sharma professor in Department of Clinical Psychology of Delhi (2022) analyzed the consequences of violence on mental health, correct therapy and solutions that can improve our system in a better way.  

Primary Outcomes of Domestic Violence

  • Low self-esteem, guilt & shame: People who experienced domestic violence often internalize negative messages and criticisms from their abusers, leading to a diminished sense of self-worth. They may start to believe that they are undeserving of love and respect. They believe it is all their fault because they received that abuse, and this leads to a feeling of shame, making it challenging to build new relationships or even to trust friends and family members. 
  • Emotional numbness or detachment: To protect themselves, some survivors may shut down their emotions and disconnect from their feelings to handle the strong emotions linked to the violence.
  • Anxiety and constant fear. After experiencing domestic violence, people may live in constant fear of being abuse again. This can cause an elevated level of anxiety and hyper-vigilance.  
  • Depression & Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Those who have endured severe or prolonged domestic violence may develop PTSD, a condition characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, and intense emotional reactions triggered by reminders of the trauma.  
  • Self-harming behaviors or thoughts of suicide

Curative Interventions

Providing support services like legal and counseling support to help people regain self-esteem

This intervention involves offering legal assistance to people who experienced domestic abuse to help them navigate the legal system and seek justice against their abusers. It also includes providing counseling services to help people cope with the trauma, rebuild self-esteem, and work through the emotional aftermath of violence. The government can improve this aspect by: 

  • Establishing specialized support centers: Governments can set up dedicated centers or hotlines where survivors can access legal and counseling support in a safe and confidential environment. 
  • Training and capacity building: Ensuring that lawyers, counselors, and support staff are trained in handling cases of violence against women sensitively and effectively. 
  • Financial support: Allocating funds to provide free or subsidized legal and counseling services to ensure that all survivors have access to help, regardless of their financial status. 

Shelter homes, rehabilitative services, and efforts to integrate survivor back into society

Providing shelter homes for women who have escaped violence is crucial as they often need a safe place to stay away from their abusers. Rehabilitative services help women rebuild their lives and gain independence. The government can improve this aspect by: 

  • Increasing the number of shelter homes 
  • Security and safety measures 
  • Skill-building programs: Offering vocational training and skill development programs to help survivors become self-sufficient and financially independent. 

Providing medical and psychological care 

Survivors of violence often suffer physical injuries and emotional trauma. Providing medical and psychological care is vital for their recovery. The government can improve this aspect by: 

  • Accessible healthcare services: easily and immediately accessible to survivors 
  • Trained medical professionals: Training healthcare providers to recognize signs of violence and provide sensitive care to people. 
  • Mental health support: Establishing mental health services that specialize in trauma and violence-related issues to offer specialized care to survivors. 
  • Public awareness campaigns: Running public awareness campaigns to reduce the stigma around seeking mental health support and encourage people to seek help. 

It is crucial to talk about violence against women and take care of their mental health after they have experienced violence. There are many types of therapy that can help lots of women. Getting this kind of help can reduce the number of suicides and murders that happen every day. 

Psychological Interventions

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This focuses on challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs that may result from the violence experience. 
  • Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT): This specifically addresses trauma-related issues caused by violence. 
  • Third Wave CBTs: These include therapies like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness, which help individuals change their relationship with psychological events through acceptance and committed action. 
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts related to the trauma. 
  • Integrative therapies: One such example is Motivational Interviewing, which helps individuals build motivation and commitment to change harmful behaviors. 
  • Humanistic therapies: Supportive and Non-Directive therapies may be useful for victims of intimate partner violence. Supportive interventions and problem-solving techniques can also be applied to help victims translate their intentions to end abuse into action. 
  • Other psychologically oriented interventions: Art therapy, music therapy, meditation, and narrative therapy can be helpful for women who have left abusive relationships and are managing ongoing trauma symptoms. 

Psychological interventions and counseling are crucial when dealing with violence against women. Prevention requires recognizing the factors responsible for violence and addressing them through awareness, education, training, and interventions in the social and physical environment. This is important for both addressing violence against women and promoting women’s mental health. 

Miriam Marra


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