Domestic violence is a global problem that is widely discussed recently. According to the WHO, one out of five women has experienced violence or assault by men. The Indonesian National Commission for Women have stated that the most common assault done has been domestic violence.
In 2002, WHO’s report regarding “Violence and Health” has shown that there is a significant decrease in health quality in women that has been through violence. The results comprise of data that has been collected from 10 countries.
In 2007, data collected by the Women’s Crisis Center shows that 87% of victims that accessed their service are victims of domestic violence caused by husbands or ex-husbands. Nine out of ten victims experienced mental issues, 12% attempted suicide, and 13.2% had problems with their reproductive system. Domestic violence is more common in women, however research has also shown that 800 000 males globally have also been victims of domestic violence. Data from the British Crime Study has even shown that 40% of domestic violence victims are men.
Domestic violence has a detrimental effect to the victim’s health both in short term and long term. Not only does it affect the victim, but it also affects children of the family and other family members.
Short Term Effects of Domestic Violence
Short term effects include mild to severe trauma such as: bruises, cuts, tears, bone fractures, head trauma. What one must understand is that violence is not just caused by physical assault but also by sexual assault, verbal assault, and psychological assault. Effects of sexual and psychological assault include:
Sexually transmitted disease
Sleep disturbance including insomnia and nightmares
Abortions and miscarriage may happen to pregnant victims
Long Term Effects of Domestic Violence
Arthritis in bone joints
Gastro intestinal problems: abdominal pain which may be a direct cause of trauma to the abdomen or caused by dyspepsia or ulcers (as there is an increase of gastric acid caused by stress). Irritable Bowel syndrome or IBS may also be a sequela.
Heart problems and anxiety that may effect blood pressure, and heart rate and rhythm
Sexual dysfunction, namely pain during intercourse
Dysfunction of the immune system
Other mental issues that may be caused by domestic violence include:
Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) where the patient may suffer from flashbacks during the traumatic stress.
Depression may give a feeling low self-esteem, memory problems, sleeping problems, loss of appetite, and a low mood.
Anxiety characterized by panic attacks, worried feeling.
According to a survey, only 1 out of 20 domestic violence victims seek medical help. A majority of victims feel scared or ashamed. It is also uncommon that victims resort to alcohol or drugs as an escape from those feelings.
Who and What Can We do to Help?
What is most important is to have a supportive environment, to be sensitive towards the subject, and to give hope to boost the confidence of these victims so that they will speak out.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek medical advice from psychologists and doctors. Seeking help not only will aid in physical health, but will also help and/or prevent depression and suicide.