Domestic Violence - Effects of domestic violence

Who is affected by domestic violence?

Domestic violence has far-reaching effects on the victim, both physically and mentally. It also has strong links with child abuse, and its cost to society as a whole is enormous.

Effects of domestic violence on the person being abused

Possible effects include:

  • Physical injuries.
  • Death, by suicide or homicide.
  • Miscarriage during pregnancy, as well as premature labour and fetal distress in the infant.
  • Unintended pregnancy.
  • Homelessness.
  • Lost opportunities - jobs, hobbies, children, friends, experiences. Lost relationships with family, friends or children.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor health generally (women suffering domestic abuse often go to their GPs with vague symptoms for which there is no obvious cause).
  • Increased risk of acquiring HIV.

There is a strong link between domestic violence and child abuse/neglect. The UK Department of Health says around 750,000 children a year experience domestic violence. In households where there is domestic violence, about three quarters of it is seen by children. About half of these children are abused themselves. Children in these families have a higher risk of being sexually abused.

Effects of domestic violence on children

Depending on their age some possible effects are:

  • Physical injuries.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Behavioural difficulties.
  • Learning difficulties.
  • Slow speech and language development.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Nightmares.
  • Not doing as well at school as they should.
  • Not making friends.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Self-harm.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Loss of a parent.
  • Change in their relationship with their mother.
  • Insecurity - they don't feel safe in their own home.
  • An increased risk of becoming the perpetrator of violence against an intimate partner in the future (by 3- to 4-fold).

What financial impact does domestic violence bring with it?

It is estimated that the cost of domestic violence in the UK is £3.6 billion a year. This is made up of:

  • The cost of the role of the criminal justice system - police, courts, prisons.
  • The cost to the NHS - the costs of treating physical injury and mental health problems including hospital care, GP appointments, prescriptions and ambulances.
  • The cost of housing.
  • The cost to social services.
  • The cost to employers.

In the USA the cost has been estimated to be US$ 5.8 billion annually.

Did you find this information useful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Why not subcribe to the newsletter?

We would love to hear your feedback!

Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Mary Harding
Document ID:
28820 (v2)
Last Checked:
08 May 2017
Next Review:
29 June 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.