Consequences of Wife Abuse
A Closer Look at How the Abused Woman Feels
A woman who has been abused over a long period of time is afraid. Not only is she afraid that she, herself, will be seriously hurt, but if she has children, she fears for their safety also. Her feelings of fear link her to all other women, from all classes of society, in similar situations.
Fear might be a woman’s first and most immediate feeling during or after a beating, but other negative feelings may surface when she is not in physical danger. The abused woman is apt to develop doubts about herself. She might wonder if she is justified in fearing for her life and calling herself an “abused wife.” Most likely, however, a woman who thinks or feels she is being abused, probably is.
Or, she may feel guilty, even though she’s done nothing wrong. An abused wife may feel responsible for her husband’s violence because in some way she may have provoked him. This has her placing the shame and blame on herself–instead of her abuser. The longer she puts up with the abuse and does nothing to avoid or prevent it, the less she likes herself. Along with the feeling of being a failure, both as a woman and in her marriage, may come a real feeling of being trapped and powerless, with no way out.
What are the Consequences of Spousal Abuse?
Abuse may affect virtually every aspect of an abused person’s life. It can harm their physical and mental health, their ability to work, and their relationships with their children and other loved ones. Being abused can destroy a person’s sense of self-efficacy and self-worth. Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), if used as a coping mechanism, may further endanger an abused person’s health and well-being. In some cases, the consequences of abuse are fatal; some individuals are eventually killed by their abusive partners. According to police-reported data for 1999, more than 500 women and 100 men were either seriously injured or killed at the hands of their partners.
Abuse can also be devastating for those who are not the intended target. Children who are exposed to violence in their homes may experience serious emotional, developmental, behavioural and academic difficulties. For example, children who are exposed to physical violence between adults or teenagers in the home are more likely to be physically (or indirectly) aggressive, have emotional disorders, be hyperactive, or engage in acts of vandalism.
Consequences for Abusers
Abusers are responsible for the violence and harm they cause. In some cases, abusers may have been abused – or exposed to abuse – themselves. They may have learned that abusing others is a way to exert power and control. They may continue to abuse others even if it destroys their relationships or has other negative effects on their lives such as involvement in the criminal justice system. Some abusers eventually kill their victims and themselves.
Spousal abuse has enormous economic implications for Canadian society. The first research study to estimate the costs of various forms of violence against women, including woman abuse in intimate relationships, found that this problem costs Canadian society an estimated $4.2 billion per year in social services, education, criminal justice, labour, employment, health and medical costs. Criminal justice costs alone total an estimated $871,908,583.00 per year.
Statistics – Who Are the Victims?
- Women were attacked about six times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than were male violence victims.
- Nearly 30 percent of all female homicide victims were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends.
- In contrast, just over 3 percent of male homicide victims were known to have been killed by their wives, former wives or girlfriends.
- Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed more than one million violent acts against women.
- Family members or other people they knew committed more than 2.7 million violent crimes against women.
- Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed 26 percent of rapes and sexual assaults.
- Forty-five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple offenders involve offenders they know.
- The rate of intimate-offender attacks on women separated from their husbands was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women.
- Women of all races were equally vulnerable to attacks by intimates.
- Female victims of violence were more likely to be injured when attacked by someone they knew than female victims of violence who were attacked by strangers.