The Role of Governments towards Domestic Violence

The Role of Governments towards Domestic Violence

On first sight, domestic violence may seem a personal issue that warrants no attention. It is perhaps this view that has allowed domestic violence to thrive over the years across the world. On scrutiny, however, the prevalence, magnitude, and subsequent effects of domestic violence call for the attention of not only non-governmental organizations but also the government. Statistics on domestic violence paint an especially grim picture on the violence estimating millions of children exposed to the violence, as well as 21 percent and 10 percent of women and men in England having had an experience of domestic violence respectively (Devaney, 2008; Spilsbury et al., 2007). Of even more concerns are the debilitating effects of domestic violence on the victims including poor health, bludgeoned self-esteem, and constant second-guessing of one’s self (Walker, 1999). The crux of this paper, therefore, is that domestic violence has negative effects on children, women and social life and that the government should play a prominent role towards the eradication of domestic violence.

The Negative Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Spilsbury et al. (2007) inform of the worrying number of children exposed to domestic violence. Citing several sources, they go on to estimate million as the number of children exposed to domestic violence (Spilsbury et al., 2007). Denavey (2008) confirms these statistics, indicating that in the UK alone about one million children have had exposure to domestic violence. The main concern of the high number of exposures to domestic violence, however, is the negative effect that such exposures have on the children. Denavey (2008) avers that a body of evidence points to physical and sexual abuse among children exposed to domestic violence. The risk of bodily abuse/harm mainly happens when the children are present during the domestic violence incidents (Spilsbury et al., 2007). Sexual abuse, on the other hand, largely affects girls, who become instruments of retaliation, either as revenge against the woman perpetrating the violence or as an extension of the violence.

The physical harm caused by domestic violence is only one among the many negative effects of the violence on children. Chamberlain (2013) explains that exposure to domestic violence has a psychological impact on children. According to Chamberlain (2013), exposure to domestic violence is a toxic stressor on the children making them live in fear. Moreover, for girls, witnessing domestic violence, especially that meted to their mothers dampens their self-confidence and worth, wherein they grow considering themselves inferior to their male counterparts (Ferragut, Blanca & Ortiz-Tallo, 2013).

The effects of domestic violence transcend the physical and emotional harm on the child to the physical developmental and later life social development. Chamberlain (2013) contends that aside from being a stressor to the child, domestic violence disrupts the normal brain development of the child, thus interfering with the child’s ability to learn. Children exposed to domestic violence, therefore, find it difficult to learn, connect with their peers, and develop meaningful relationships later in life (Chamberlin, 2013: Devaney, 2008).

The Negative Effects of Domestic Violence and Women

Women and children have disproportionately higher effects of domestic violence, in addition to having higher exposures to domestic violence. Devaney (2008) puts this in perspective indicating that at least one in five women (representing 21 percent) has experienced domestic violence in comparison with one in 10 men (representing 11 percent). Such high numbers mean that women also experience higher negative effects of domestic violence than men do. Domestic violence meted against women high affects their psyche, making them consider themselves as inferior, weak and in need of constant supervision and protection (Ferragut, Blanca & Ortiz-Tallo, 2013). Moreover, the lack of moral support for women undergoing domestic violence does more harm to their psyche, where they see the battering as normal. In such instances, the women do not seek divorce or any form of social support; a fact makes them suffer in the marriage, and at times, succumb to the violence through either murder or suicide (Shallat, 2000; Vu et al., 2014).

While the damage to the psyche is intrinsic, and therefore, not visible to the casual observer, physical effects of domestic violence are more explicit. Broken jaws and arms, black eyes, and broken ribs are among the physical pain that women endure through domestic violence (Jeltsen, 2014). Physical harm has sometimes gone to the extremes whereby women lose their lives, while others continue to experience domestic violence even when pregnant leading to the loss of their unborn babies (Devaney, 2008).

More worrying is the economic sabotage that domestic violence has on women. Jeltsen (2014) explains that some women lose their jobs from their partners’ harassment at the place of work through constant calls and unwarranted visits to the places of work. Moreover, some partners only provide sufficient finances for the basics, essentially denying the women their freedom and locking them in the abuse relationships (Gresham, 2011; Jeltsen, 2014). By refusing to contribute or care for children, causing the women not to have enough sleep, and causing physical harm to the point that the woman feels shame reporting to work in such a state, domestic violence keeps women in economic bondage, preventing them from actualizing their professional dreams and attaining financial independence (Jeltsen, 2014).

The Negative Effects of Domestic Violence on Social Life

Domestic violence’s effects ripple beyond the household to the wider society and the social life of the victims. Devaney (2008) states that individuals who have experienced domestic violence in their childhood risk developing antisocial behavior. Among these behaviors is perpetuating a constant disposition to violence against others, especially against women (Devaney, 2008). Moreover, such individuals also have a higher risk of engaging in illicit drug use, alcohol misuse, as well as developing depression after witnessing too much domestic violence (Devaney, 2008).

Many women and children exposed to domestic violence develop internalization tendencies, whereby they lock out others and have minimal to no social lives(Chamberlain, 2013). These people feel denigrated, and therefore, tend to avoid social interactions. Sad, however, is that the development of such antisocial tendencies does not do much to help the victims, and bottling up the frustration only causes internal physical problems, or sometimes the development of violent tendencies, feelings of loathing, and crime.

Positive Effects of Domestic Violence

While some may only see the doom in domestic violence, others see it as having positive attributes. Tracy (2007) states that domestic violence, particularly male-initiated, aims at establishing dominance and control. Here, the argument is that males, as the majority perpetrators of domestic violence, see it as a way of establishing control and stamping of their authority. Such authority also commands respect for the male as the head of the house and breadwinner.

Other proponents of domestic violence also see it as a form of learning for daughters. Therefore, by disciplining a mother, domestic violence proponents argue that it teaches the daughter strict obedience, which she (the daughter) will be required to accord her future husband (Tracy, 2007). Such form of discipline is, thereby, education for the girl. She is able to know what will be expected of her as a wife, and what would become of any form of defiance from her part.

Domestic Violence: A Death Trap?

Domestic violence has no place in society. The argument that it is a way of establishing control and authority has a skewed bias against women (Tracy, 2007). Perhaps necessary for consideration is the idea that the authority of a man in the household can only be questioned when the man is not performing his duty as a husband and breadwinner for the family. Moreover, marriage is a partnership and not a master-servant relationship that would require flexing of muscles to show authority.

On the same breath, purporting to encourage domestic violence as a form of a learning/education process for the girl, though understandable, is selfish. A loving, caring, and understanding environment provide a better education/learning, unlike a violent one (Ferragut, Blanca, & Ortiz-Tallo, 2013). The violence in itself can be a catalyst to the girl’s decision not to want to get wedded, as well as develop a negative attitude towards both marriage and men. It also has the potential of adversely affecting her future marriage, whereby the absence of violence may be an indicator of her failure or weakness in her husband.




The negative physical, psychological, social, economic, and emotional effects of domestic violence call for action against its perpetrators. Support for victims of domestic violence primarily comes from non-governmental organizations, particularly in developing nations. The silence and non-action of government agencies towards the vice is of concern, and thus the need for their action against domestic violence. Governments, therefore, must take proactive action towards curtailing domestic violence by introducing severe punishment on perpetrators. Only with such measures and support to the victims, governments will be able to stop domestic violence, while allowing victims to heal.




Chamberlain, L. (2013). Childhood exposure to domestic violence: implications and opportunities for circumpolar health. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 72(1), 49-50.


Devaney, J. (2008). Chronic child abuse and domestic violence: children and families with long-term and complex needs. Child & Family Social Work, 13(4), 443-453. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2008.00559.x

Ferragut, M., Blanca, M. J., & Ortiz-Tallo, M. (2013). Psychological values as protective factors against sexist attitudes in preadolescents. Psicothema, 25(1), 38-42. doi:10.7334/psicothema2012.85

Gresham, G. (2011). Domestic violence is a union issue. New York Amsterdam News. p. 10.

Jeltsen, M. (2014). The insidious form of domestic violence that no one talks about. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Shallat, L. (2000). Democracy in the Nation, but not at Home. No Paradise Yet: The World’s Women Face the New Century. (pp. 137-156). Panos London.

Spilsbury, J., Belliston, L., Drotar, D., Drinkard, A., Kretschmar, J., Creeden, R., & … Friedman, S. (2007). Clinically significant trauma symptoms and behavioral problems in a community-based sample of children exposed to domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22(6), 487-499. doi:10.1007/s10896-007-9113-z

Tracy, S., R. (2007). Patriarchy and domestic violence: Challenging common misconceptions. JETS, 50(3), 573-94. Retrieved from

Vu, H. S., Schuler, S., Hoang, T. A., & Quach, T. (2014). Divorce in the context of domestic violence against women in Vietnam. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 16(6), 634-647. doi:10.1080/13691058.2014.896948

Walker, L. E. (1999). Psychology and domestic violence around the world. American Psychologist, 54(1), 21-29.