What Impact Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims & Family/Friends?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence or has questions on what they should do:

What is Domestic Violence?
Who Commits Domestic Violence and Why?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence?
How to Handle & Deal with Domestic Violence
How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence
How to Heal and Recover from Domestic Violence
What Impacts Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims and Their Family/Friends?
How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)
How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?
Punishment and Sentencing for Violent Domestic Abuse
How can Domestic Violence be Prevented?
What Effects Does Domestic Violence Have on Wider Society?
Domestic Violence Data & Statistics
Domestic Violence Helplines, Support & Further Reading


Domestic abuse and violence can affect anybody and everyone, the victim, families, neighbours, colleagues, friends and the wider community.

In this article we discuss the impacts of domestic violence on victims and their family and friends, giving a better understanding of signs and symptoms that they may already be experiencing. Understanding and acknowledging the impact of abuse is the first step towards trying to help yourself or your loved ones with recovery.

How does physical and domestic violence affect victims whilst still with their abuser?

Physical effects of abuse may include minor injuries or serious conditions such as broken bones, bruises, or injuries to organs and other part of the body. The emotional effects may involve confusion, shock, shortness of breath and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. The effects will depend on various factors such as the severity of the abuse, the frequency of the incidents, the period of time, age of the victim or witnesses and the type of abuse.

What is the short term impact for family and friends witnessing (or aware of) the abuse?

Family and friends may experience anxiety and other mental problems from the trauma, unsure about how to support the victim. They may feel guilty for not being able to help and experience disruption with their sleep and eating patterns.

How does domestic violence affect survivors’ long term after they have left their domestic abuser?

The long term effects of domestic abuse can significantly impact a victim’s life. The trauma of the abuse can change lives, this will of course depend on a number of factors as individuals will respond differently to each situation. Some of the long-term effects include the following;

  • Trouble developing relationships with others
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Depression anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Reproductive issues in women
  • Mental health issues

Please note this list is not exhaustive and there may be other long term effects, these will of course vary for all individuals.

What are the long term effects for those who witnessed the abuse or helped the survivor?

They may feel confused, fear, guilt resentment or misalignment in their self-esteem. They may feel guilty for not being able to protect or help the victim and suffer from mental issues trying to come to terms with what has happened. There is also a risk that relationships with family members and friends is damaged if the perpetrator was a member of the family or close friend of the family, or if the victim was not believed when the abuse was disclosed.

What impact does domestic violence have on children who witness domestic violence from a young age?

Children witnessing or experiencing abuse are at risk of long-term physical or mental problems. They are at a higher risk of developing problems with their behaviour as they get older, these problems include anger, anxiety and other mental health issues.  The scale of these problems are heightened when these children grow up and have their own families, they may become violent in their relationships as they will have learned from behaviour witnessed in their childhood causing a ripple effect of repercussions that weaken the structure of a family unit for generations to come.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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