Domestic Violence and its Numerous Health Impacts: Changes Need to be Made to Prevent Abuse
By: Luis Gay
Domestic abuse—whether it is physical, sexual, or emotional—is an issue that is haunting millions of people in the United States. Women between the ages of 18-34 years old are the highest target group for victimization according to the Department of Justice, with 43% of college women reporting abuse.
Depending on the type of trauma, various physiological effects may follow as a result. For instance, physical traumas such as marital rape may cause unwanted pregnancies, increased risk of obtaining STDs, genital-urinary problems, and unexplained vaginal bleeding. Similarly, blows to the head could result in traumatic brain injury and injury to other parts of the body can lead to deafness, blindness, or even missing limbs. Verbal abuse is just as dangerous as physical abuse as victims may develop self-esteem issues toward their body, leading to health problems such as anorexia or obesity.
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The implications of physical trauma quite often go hand-in-hand with the development of mental and social problems such as Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS). Considered a sub-category of post-traumatic stress disorder, BWS prevents women from moving on emotionally from violent events. Those who already have disorders, such as an addiction to alcohol and drugs, and have been victims of abuse may partake in high-risk behaviors such as abusing drugs to relieve tension or to establish a sense of control (as at the moment of abuse, they had no control). Another mental phenomenon a victim of violence may experience is the feeling of co-dependency between the abuser and victim. The abuser does not even need to be in the presence of the survivor, but thoughts of control and power daunt the mind of the victim. This mental state often leads to depression, low self-esteem, or self-hatred.
With so many negative outcomes of domestic violence, more has to be done in the United States to stop this growing issue. Our country has made significant advancements to prevent abuse, such as the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (introduced by then Senator Joe Biden and reauthorized in 2013). This act lowered domestic violence by 50%. However, other legislation needs to be made to lower it another 50%, such as implementing programs to treat and rehabilitate abusers to prevent them from repeating the same actions. Similarly, programs to heal victims must be created. Legislation tends to only focus on the perpetrator and not the victim. In fact, there is a scarce amount of legislation that recognizes the effects of abuse and creates protection for domestic violence survivors. If legislation is constructed or adjusted to recognize these aspects, then our country is moving forward in the right direction to end abuse.
For more information, The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
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Luis Gay is a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Biochemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.
Bradkin, Tania. 7July2015. “Independence & Relationship Abuse Survivors: Health Outcomes & the Obstacles on the Road to Freedom”. Huffington Post. [Accessed 7 July 2015]
This picture was designed by Alessandra Boeri. https://www.behance.net/gallery/Stop-Child-Abuse/555907
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