24 June, 2020

Domestic and family violence has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of survivors and witnesses.

The effects of domestic violence go beyond physical marks and injuries. The mental and emotional consequences can endure long after bruises have healed, and even after the abusive relationship has ended.

Every form of domestic and family violence can have considerable immediate and long-lasting impacts. Physical, psychological, sexual, financial, and all other types of abuse can be just as damaging to the health and wellbeing of survivors and witnesses.

While the impacts of domestic violence vary widely from person to person, these are some of the common effects of domestic violence.

If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 000.


Physical Effects of Domestic Violence

Physical abuse such as hitting can lead to injuries and marks, but it can also have indirect impacts on survivors’ physical health. Even domestic abuse that doesn’t involve physical violence can lead to serious physical health issues for survivors.

Some physical impacts of domestic abuse might include:

  • Bruises
  • Scratches or cuts
  • Red or purple marks at the neck
  • Sprained or broken wrists/other bones
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Menstrual cycle or fertility issues (in women).


Mental and Emotional Effects of Domestic Violence

The trauma of domestic and family violence can result in ongoing mental and emotional impacts for survivors. These mental and emotional effects can last long after the abuse ends and can impact subsequent relationships.

Research shows survivors of domestic abuse are three times more likely to suffer from mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Mental and emotional impacts of domestic violence might include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts
  • Depression, including prolonged sadness
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Shame and embarrassment
  • Increased likelihood of alcohol and drug misuse
  • Hopelessness about the present and the future
  • Inability to trust in other relationships.


Effects on Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

Exposure to domestic and family violence can have long-lasting, challenging impacts on a child, even if they haven’t experienced the violence firsthand. These effects might include:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Fearfulness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Inability to trust
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Relationship problems
  • Academic problems
  • Reckless behaviours (e.g. drug and alcohol misuse).

Children who witness violence between parents/caretakers may also be at greater risk of using violence in their future relationships.


You can learn more about the types of domestic and family violence, how to create a safety plan, and where to find help here.

RAQ offers a range of counselling and support services for people affected by domestic and family violence and those who use power and control within their families. Learn more about these services and how to access them here.


Support Contacts

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

DVConnect Womensline: 1800 811 811

DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636

Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 010 120

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800

Lifeline: 13 11 14

If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 000.