Effects of domestic violence on women

Effects of domestic violence on women

Abused women often experience conflicting emotions such as fear, anger, shame, resentment, sadness and powerlessness.


An abused woman lives in fear, unable to predict when the next attack will come. She may become isolated from friends and family, and increasingly dependent on her abuser. In these circumstances it can be very hard to make sense of what is really happening. Over time her self-esteem may be worn down. She may start to believe her abuser’s insults. She may blame herself for the abuse, or deny that it is taking place. She may ignore it, hoping that her partner -the man she loves – will change.


  • There are parallels between the impact of torture and imprisonment on hostages and the impact of domestic violence
  • Abused women can develop post-traumatic stress which includes a range of symptoms: agitation and anxiety, depression, panic attacks, trouble sleeping or relaxing, numbness, sense of isolation, nightmares
  • A study of the use of health services by domestic violence survivors found that:
    – 18% see a doctor in the first year of abuse
    – 56% after the second year
    – 31% have no contact until the third year


Abused women are not weak, submissive victims. It takes huge strength to live with an abusive partner. Women have to be strong and resourceful, adopting all kinds of coping strategies to survive each day.

Refuge recognises the enormous courage it takes for a woman to escape domestic violence. We support her and her children every step of the way. We empower them to rebuild their lives – free from fear.


For more on the effects of domestic violence on women, read Power and Control by Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge.