The Impact of Domestic Abuse
What is the impact on victims?
The impact of domestic abuse on victims cannot be underestimated. There is not only the psychological and physical scars which may be borne by victims, there is also the impact to the economy as a whole.
It is important to remember that victims of domestic abuse are not weak. They endure some of the most horrific crimes and suffering and manage to find the strength to remain with their partners and care for their children. Refuge liken this suffering to something akin to victims of torture. I wholly agree.
Abused partners can:
- Be isolated from their families and friends.
- Be placed under the control of the abuser through continuous emotional and psychological abuse.
- Become more and more reliant upon the abuser, finding it hard to see what the reality really is.
- Start to believe the false accusations made by their abuser.
- Have their confidence eroded.
- Begin to believe they deserve the abuse and are responsible for their partner’s actions.
- Deny what is happening to them and hope their partner will change into the loving person they believe them to be.
- Develop many kinds of coping strategies just to get through each day, to protect themselves and their children.
- Become resourceful and develop a strength to get through each day.
- Be edgy as they never know when an attack may happen.
- Develop post-traumatic stress, with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, feeling isolated, nightmares and panic attacks.
How does domestic abuse impact children?
Children can experience domestic abuse in a number of ways. They may:
- Witness the abuse.
- Hear the abuse.
- See a parent’s injuries.
- See a parent’s distress.
- Be injured trying to stop the abuse.
Witnessing or hearing any type of abuse can be extremely distressing and frightening for a child, and can cause them great harm. The impact upon children is real and can lead to Local Authority Children’s Social Care (see report here) becoming involved with a family.
NSPCC statistics show that 1 in 5 teenagers have been physically abused by their partner.
What is the cost of domestic abuse?
A study in 2009 showed domestic abuse costs the economy £16 billion per annum:
- £1.2 billion per annum to the Criminal Justice System
- £1.7 billion per annum in costs to healthcare
- £0.28 billion per annum to Social Care
- £0.19 billion per annum to the Housing Sector
- £0.38 billion per annum to the legal services sector
- £1,097,330 is the cost of each domestic homicide investigation
In June 2014, a further study was conducted into the impact of domestic abuse. This study showed that:
- Domestic abuse cost UK businesses £1.9 billion per annum.
- In any one year, more than 20% of women would take time off due to domestic abuse.
- 2% of women will lose their jobs as a result of domestic abuse.
- 75% of women abused are targeted at work.
How can people escape domestic abuse?
It takes great courage for an abused partner to leave an abusive relationship. That courage is recognised and there are a number of services which will help those suffering from abuse to leave and support them during and after making that decision.
The best known services are Women’s Aid and Refuge. Each police force has a domestic abuse support team and will work with victims.
If you need help the National Domestic Abuse Freephone helpline is 0808 2000 247.
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