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Domestic Violence Signs and Effects

Denise DeCooman, Chevette Alston
  • Author
    Denise DeCooman

    Denise DeCooman was a teaching assistant for the General Zoology course at California University of Pennsylvania while she earned her Master's of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from fall semester of 2015 and spring of 2017. She also has a Bachelor's of Science in Biological Sciences from California University. She has been writing instructional content for an educational consultant based out of the greater Pittsburgh area since January 2020.

  • Instructor
    Chevette Alston

    Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

Learn about domestic violence. Understand the meaning of domestic violence and abuse, read the signs and effects of domestic violence, and see multiple examples. Updated: 01/19/2022

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What Is Domestic Violence?

Some unhealthy intimate relationships have a power imbalance where one partner controls certain circumstances that enables them to control or manipulate the other partner, which is the meaning of domestic violence. Domestic violence is also commonly referred to as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence. While people may generally think of domestic violence in heterosexual relationships where the female is abused and the male is the abuser, this is not always the case. Males in heterosexual partnerships may be domestically victimized by female partners; domestic violence also occurs within the LGBTQ community. However, on average, approximately 1.3 million women report cases of domestic violence each year.

In 1993, legislation was passed known as the Violence Against Women Act which had the purpose of helping law enforcement officers aid in domestic abuse calls as well as establishing protocols that help to keep domestic violence survivors safe. The month of October is referred to as Domestic Violence month to help raise awareness for survivors of domestic abuse. The color associated with domestic violence awareness and support is purple.

While it is difficult to pinpoint the causes of domestic violence, certain risk factors increase the likelihood that an individual would engage in this type of unsavory behavior. Risk factors that increase one's chances of domestically abusing another include lack of stable employment, alcohol use, witnessing domestic abuse in childhood, previous traumatic experiences, being a parent before the age of 21, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and male-dominant and hierarchical belief systems. While these factors do not always mean an individual will be abusive, it does accompany a higher risk that an individual with these characteristics is more likely to domestically abuse another person.

Domestic violence does not always require physical abuse to occur. There are many forms of abuse that fall under the umbrella of intimate partner violence. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse and rape, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and technological abuse.

Signs of Domestic Violence

There are many signs of someone experiencing domestic violence, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any type of physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse or assault, rape, or coercion
  • Stalking, threats. or intimidation
  • Control over finances, theft, or destruction of property
  • Demeaning and devaluing behaviors
  • Isolating the partner from the means of a support system, such as keeping the person from friends or family or not allowing the individual to work or volunteer outside of the home


Model With Special Make-Up with Intent to Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence

Model With Special Make-Up with Intent to Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence


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  • 0:00 What Is Domestic Violence?
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Effects of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects all parties involved, whether it's the individual being abused, parties witnessing the abuse, as well as the abuser. The individual who experiences domestic violence may end up experiencing severe psychological problems, such as PTSD or complex PTSD symptoms. PTSD is an initialism for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a mental health disorder characterized by flashbacks, unwanted memories, or thoughts that affect the individual's overall quality of life. Complex PTSD is a type of post-traumatic stress which occurs due to experiencing or witnessing traumatic events over a longer period of time. Witnesses of domestic violence may also suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD. Approximately 24% of individuals who are survivors of domestic violence will go on to develop PTSD. Abusers may suffer legal repercussions if charges are pressed, and the individual is convicted of a crime.

Domestic violence also accounts for close to six billion dollars spent on health care costs annually. Many who face domestic violence suffer effects including a loss of housing or income. Additionally, domestic violence is positively correlated with premature births. This puts children at risk for cognitive and mental health issues, as well as the potential of being victims of abuse themselves. Other issues that are relevant to domestic abuse in juveniles include distrust of authority figures, relationship attachment issues, nightmares, bedwetting, academic difficulties, and substance abuse issues.


PTSD is Often Observed in Survivors and Witnesses of Domestic Violence

PTSD is Often Observed in Survivors and Witnesses of Domestic Violence


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Frequently Asked Questions

What can be classified as domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is more than just physical abuse and violence. Other forms of abuse, such as technological, financial, emotional, sexual, or sexual forms of abuse are also categorized as domestic abuse.

What is domestic violence in simple words?

Domestic violence, simply put, is behavior used to exert power or control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence may include physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or technological forms of abuse.

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