Domestic Violence and Women’s Mental Health

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Literature review

Domestic violence occurs worldwide irrespective of culture, geographical and historical period. There are many factors that cause or lead to domestic violence and they are:

Unmet role expectations

Unmet role expectations on the part of the wife or husband could lead to domestic violence in the family. If women fail to fulfil basic domestic responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, managing household budgets and taking care of child, it often leads to domestic violence. Child care was a source of argument among many couples and women have to play a crucial role in maintaining domestic peace. Moreover, domestic violence will occur if husband fail to provide for the family at a standard set by wife. If wife demands things that husband could not afford, his response would be violent (Keenan, Hadad & Balian, 1998). Therefore, unmet role expectations lead to domestic violence in the family.

Conflict with in-laws

Conflict with in-laws was another frequent cause of violence particularly in younger families. If couple and children tend to live with husband's parents or other extended families, conflict arises due to husband's strong allegiance to his parents. So, domestic violence occurs when there is conflict with in-laws (Keenan, Hadad & Balian, 1998).

Substance abuse

As stated by Stewart and Robinson (1998) when individual is under substance abuse, the victim will lessen his or her ability to escape or resist and perpetrator may decrease self-consciousness against aggression. Therefore, domestic violence occurs when partners are under the influence of substances.

Increased stress in the family

Domestic violence occurs when there is high level of stress in the family. For instance ?if husband is of lower socioeconomic status, he is more likely to commit domestic violence and tend to perpetrate more severe violence than men who are at higher socioeconomic status' (Holtzworth & Munroe, 1996).

Individual's childhood history

Domestic violence is also associated with individual's childhood history where if males have witness violence against family members and if he had experience sexual abuse in childhood, he is more likely to be violent toward their spouses while females who witness violence in childhood are more likely to become passive when they become adults. In addition, women who had experience both child and adult abuse were more likely to suffer from mental health diseases. In addition, Whitfield, Anda, Dube and Felitti (2003) also states that if women had experience sexual abuse in their childhood they are more likely to experience domestic violence in their adulthood. Therefore, individual's childhood experience or history increased the risk of victimization among women and perpetration by men.

Several other studies also states similar reasons where they asserts that men tend to act aggressively towards their partner if they had experience physical and sexual abuse in their childhood (Bagley & Mallick, 2000; Lewis, Moy & Jackson, 1985).

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol use has been associated with rates of domestic violence. In one of the research done by Kantor & Straus (1987) in United States, they had found out that about 25% of incidents of domestic violence are associated with alcohol use. It has been thought that alcohol increases violent incidents, either by disinhibiting the abuser or by increasing conflict. Moreover, women experience domestic violence when husband was drinking and if women disagree with his words or actions. Therefore, alcohol use can be related to Bhutanese context where alcohol is widely ingrained and accepted in the society.

However, rates of domestic violence tend to decrease when the age of couple increases as individual tend to develop more resistance power when age increases (Straus, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980). When there is more resistance power individual can resist domestic violence at any cost or they will simply ignore it.

However, not all the men who drink alcohol does not act aggressive toward their partner, rather alcohol lead to opening up where they tend to bring out both positive and negative emotions. Most often it allows them to discuss issues that men would not discuss when he is not drunk (Galvani, 2006). Many felt that alcohol alone was not enough to cause domestic violence and felt that it depends on ?environment factors, personality factors and individual's goals of drinking' (Galvani, 2006).

Domestic violence and mental health

The primary mental health that women or survivor suffer as a result of domestic violence depression. According to Humphreys and Thiara (2003) there is causal connection between women's experiences of domestic violence and her mental health where women's experiences of depression, post-traumatic stress and self-harm are symptoms or effects of living with violence and abuse. Women who had experience domestic violence suffer from depression which puts them higher risk for ?suicide, eating disorders, drug and substance abuse'(Chhikara, Jakhar, Malik, Singla & Dhattarwal, 2013).

Domestic violence is likely to play a crucial role in undermining women's mental health. In addition, Humphreys and Thiara (2003) states that women who have experience domestic violence or who were abused tend to experience the depression more than women who have not experience domestic violence. Moreover, women who have experience domestic violence are more likely to commit suicide and many states that black women are more likely to experience domestic violence.

Women, after experiencing domestic violence consulting or using available health services is not neutral as it confirms verbal abuse and lead to disempowerment and low self-esteem. Moreover, health problems were seen as weakness that might bring shame and dishonour to the family. However, many women tend to recover from their mental health once they leave the violent relationship.

To conclude, there is occurrence of domestic violence when there are unmet marital expectations, conflict with in-laws, substance abuse, individual's childhood history, and high level of stress in the family and alcohol abuse in the family. Domestic violence has both short term and long term effect on women's mental health where they commonly suffer from depression, self-harm, low-self-esteem and post-traumatic disorders.

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Domestic Violence And Women's Mental Health. (2019, Apr 15). Retrieved June 25, 2024 , from

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