9 Consequences of intimate partner violence
Reading time : 5 min
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a huge ordeal that has numerous repercussions on a victims’ physical, social and psychological wellbeing and that of their children, their loved ones and society. Public awareness of these consequences is necessary because it gives us a better understanding of victims’ reactions and makes it possible to provide them with appropriate assistance. The reactions of victims of IPV are normal. The violence is what isn’t normal.
Violence has numerous consequences on victim's emotional health, including distress, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks, sadness, shame, guilt, internal tension, stress, anger, despair, etc.
IPV occurs in a cycle, which means that the situation is never the same. The victim goes through periods of tension when they don't really know what’s going on followed by incident of violence and then by a period of remission when the partner apologizes, while manipulating the victim so that they will see themselves as partially (or completely) to blame for what happened. Because of this cycle, the victim may go from moments where they are able to see what is going on to moments where they are overwhelmed with doubt, often to the point that they no longer recognizes the violence for what it is.
Many victims of IPV and their children exhibit the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, just like war veterans. These symptoms include intrusive thoughts and memories, nightmares and flashbacks that can cause the victim intense physical and emotional distress. They may attempt to protect themselves through emotional withdrawal, drugs or alcohol, refusing or being unable to talk about the situation, forgetfulness, suicidal ideations, self-injury, etc. Always being on alert also has other effects including jumpiness, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, etc.
Deteriorating physical health
Being extremely stressed over prolonged periods affects the victims' physical well-being, and may result in sleep and eating disorders, loss of energy, weakened immune system, etc. Victims may also suffer various stress-related illnesses such as chronic pain, skin or digestive problems, frequent headaches, etc.
Physical violence can cause injuries such as bruises, fractured bones, broken teeth, perforated eardrums, concussions, etc. Victims can be seriously injured and even killed because of IPV. Some injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries that can result from repeated concussions, can also have lasting impacts on a victim's quality of life and may even shorten their lifespan.
Damage to relationships with friends&family
IPV negatively affects the victim’s support network; it can cause interpersonal conflict and the victim may lose the trust and esteem of loved ones and may even lose contact with them. Isolation caused by IPV can be very intense. The situation also has repercussions on friends&family themselves: exhaustion, stress, feelings of powerlessness, etc.
Damage to relationships with children
In a family where there is no violence, parents share power and exert parental authority together. In the context of IPV, the abuser controls the family and the victim has lost nearly all of her own power. This power imbalance has important impacts on children and teens, who often respond by refusing to acknowledge the victim’s authority. Such unequal power relations can also make some children feel a duty to protect the victim, which may become very dangerous for them.
Financial losses and poverty
IPV exacts a heavy financial price on victims: lawyer's fees (often for interminable and repeated legal proceedings), moving and reorganization costs, medical treatment, psychotherapy (frequently long-term, for the victim and for her children), sick leave, inability to work for prolonged periods or permanently, etc. Most victims of IPV are impoverished, regardless of their initial social status or education. Some victims of IPV may find themselves completely excluded from the job market and can become homeless.
IPV puts a heavy strain on the social solidarity, healthcare and social services systems and generates hefty public safety costs, as well as high legal costs through criminal, civil and youth protection court proceeding. It also impacts employment insurance, income security benefits, etc. Employers are also affected by the impacts of IPV on victims: absenteeism, reduced productivity, loss of skilled employees, increased costs related to group insurance plans, etc.
Recovery from the consequences of IPV takes time.
When violence persists after separation, it is even more difficult to deal with its repercussions.
Victims of IPV need ongoing support and concrete assistance to help them regain power and control
over their own lives. Support should remain available for as long as it takes
for them to feel safe and at peace.
Being there for a victim is important. Staying there as long as the consequences of violence are present in their lives is even more important.
- Children : witnesses and victims of intimate partner violence
- Reacting to stress : fight, freeze or flight
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Bien que la violence conjugale touche majoritairement des femmes, elle peut aussi toucher les hommes et les personnes issues de la diversité sexuelle et de genre. Les services de SOS violence conjugale sont offerts à toutes les personnes touchées par la problématique.