The Side Effects of Domestic Violence
There are a wide range of side effects domestic violence causes. These range from personal costs on health, long term career goals, mental stability, to society impacts on productivity, increased physical and mental health care costs, and the ongoing passage of abusive behavior from one generation to the next. While studies are ongoing about this topic, and there is likely more to be found out as time goes on, what is known is that violence in the home tends to beget more violence. Boys who witness abuse are 50 to 60 times more likely to become abusers themselves, even if they attempted to protect their mothers in their youth.
This speaks of the multifold costs to society that the chain of abuse has. The effects domestic violence causes are not limited to just the woman who is abused. All can agree that women suffer physical and mental damage from domestic violence, to be sure. It is the number one documented cause of injury to women, even more so than car crashes, sexual assault, or violent encounters on the street with strangers. Even after the physical abuse stops, there are long term issues that battered women deal with, namely increased heart issues, hypertension, and arthritis. Not only do injuries suffered from the abuse cause loss of jobs and stunted career growth for many women, they can also lead to loss of personal relationships with family and friends outside the abusive circle. This can also cause issues with certain social support groups like religious organizations that will turn on a battered woman if she leaves her abuser.
Children who witness abuse often have the same issues as those who were directly in the line of fire. The effects domestic violence has on the development of children has been widely documented. The fact is that boys exposed to abuse often become abusers, while girls exposed to abuse tolerate more violence than those who are not exposed in childhood. This is only the tip of the ice burg however. Children also have a wide range of behavioral and emotional issues that stem from witnessing abuse, even if they are never directly abused themselves. For those adults who believe they shelter their children from the violence, the simple fact is that up to 90% of children are aware of it occurring in spite their best efforts. The cost of living in constant fear that these children often display are anxiety, fear, sleeping disorders, excessive moodiness, social and school issues, stuttering, low self esteem, depression, or bullying. Older children are more at risk for drug abuse, risky sexual or personal behaviors, running away from home, or taking to criminal activity.
For society, the effects domestic violence has is broad. Not only does it reinforce stereotypes of aggressive men and passive women where violence and might are equated with “winning” and avoidance of conflict is seen as a weakness, but it cost a great deal in lost productivity, higher health care expenses, lower school attendance and performance, all of which impacts the economy in far reaching ways that have not been fully studied. Violence in the home might be classically part of the bullying subculture where children learn behavior from exposure and then carry that out with them to the school yard. Breaking this cycle would bring great benefits to society, reducing the tolerance to violence that is rooted not in the actions of strangers but instead in the fabric of the family.