Factors of Physical Domestic Violence

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This chapter presents the analysis of results using socio-demographical information along with explanatory data of women in the study. The study gathered data in the form of main categories and sub-categories so as to make connections and develop an understanding of the participants’ experiences and viewpoints. Each of these main categories consisted of sub-categories that made it easier to gather data that helped to elaborate and explain each theme.

Efforts have been taken to ensure that the information presented does not make the participants identifiable. Most of the women were still in relationships with their perpetrators and some were still in contact with social workers, at the time of the interview. Therefore, a pseudonym replaced all participant names and those pseudonyms also identified each transcript.


The researcher interviewed 12 women aged 18 years and above. The youngest woman was 18 years old and the oldest 53 years (mean age of 34 years), this indicates that relatively young middle-aged women took part in the study.

Data on the age of women were categorised into five-year age groups as indicated above. Majority of women were 38 years and above with 42% as indicated. The second highest was the age group of 23 – 27 years. The lowest number of women is in the middle groups of 28 – 32 and 33 – 37years. The majority age group showed that they were women who have a number of years in experiencing life in general and some kind of abuse in their lifetime.

Heise (1998) found women’s age to be a determining factor in domestic violence, as well as the age difference amongst partners can lead to violence in a relationship. Furthermore, a multi-country survey study done by Heise et al., (1998) and supported by Kishor & Johnson, (2004) revealed that in most countries, women of reproductive age (25 to 34 years) are more exposed to violence by an intimate partner in a relationship. However, age in some studies is not found to be predictive factors of violence in a relationship (Kimuna & Djamba, 2008).

In this study, the age of the women was found not to be a factor in physical abuse. Men are not concern about the women's age to physically abuse them. This is a factual finding as young and old women both experience physical abuse in Tsumeb.

Marital status

The participants who were married formed the largest group with a total of seven. The one married for twenty-one years as the longest and five years as the shortest. WHO & LSHTM (2010) found that longevity in marriage has been found to be associated with lesser physical, sexual or emotional abuse and inversely. Further, two participants reported being in a relationship. Three participants were divorced, separated and cohabiting respectively.

Family status

At the time of the interviews, six participants indicated living with their husbands and children. Two participants were living with their husbands, children, and stepchildren respectively. Two participants were living with their parents and the other two were only staying with their children.

Number of children

Ten out of twelve participants had one to four children. Two participants had no children at the time the study was conducted. Of these children witnessed domestic violence from their parents and it had an impact on the participants. Therefore, the impact can be measured using the women with children. In this study, the number of children the women had during the study is not associated with physical abuse as all women can be victims of any kind of abuse.

Level of education

Six of the women completed their secondary education and one had a bachelor degree. One participant finished the primary school level. The socio-demographic data table indicates that four of the women did not report their educational level during the interview. This could be due to an omission in reporting. The results above show that the majority of women had obtained some higher level of education and therefore their perception of the research topic can influence the outcome of the study.

Hence, Kishor & Johnson (2004) in a cross-sectional study found that women with low educational level experience the highest rate of violence, but findings in a study across 17 countries (Abramsky et al., 2011) also revealed that women with secondary background as level of education were highly affect Ed by abuse from their partners. Correspondingly, Mikton (2010) found education to be a risk and protective factor for domestic violence in couples.

Employment status

The analysis shows that nine of the women interviewed are in full-time employment, while one is self-employed. Only one is unemployed and one is still a learner. This can be positive towards the quality of life but at the same time be negative. As explained later in this chapter, some primary reasons for physical abuse against women were due to the inferiority complex of their partners. Babu & Kar (2009) revealed that women who work and earn money are in control to resist violence in the house. Women in relationships who do not have an income are more vulnerable and are at higher risk of violence from their partners. Indeed, employment is amongst the determining factors of violence in a relationship (Khrishnaan et al., 2010).

Categories and sub-categories identified during the study

Categories and sub-categories were developed to give meaning to the collected data.

Forms of abuse

The criterion for inclusion in the study required that participants had to be in a physically abusive relationship or had to have been in such a relationship. The range of abuses that women may suffer is wide; however, the participants in this study mentioned that they suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. This study recounts the experiences of the abused women of Tsumeb regarding the violence perpetrated by their partners.

Physical abuse

All the participants reported that they experienced continuous physical assaults from their partners. Majority of the women reported being beaten. Some women used the term that they were physically abused; as they did not want to go into detail how it was done to them. Of the participants reported to be assaulted with fists and were kicked, to the extent of losing teeth, breaking an arm and getting physical scars on their faces and bodies. One of the participants reported that her partner nearly stabbed her with a knife and another reported that her partner used a broomstick to beat her. Similar to findings of numerous research studies conducted worldwide, these physical acts are the most common type of violent crime committed in non-fatal partner abuse incidents.

Emotional abuse

The findings showed that four out of the 12 participants reported psychological and emotional abuse by their partners. One of the women interviewed noted conversely that she did not know that emotional abuse was part of domestic violence. Some of the abused women, however, did not recognise or even feel that they had suffered such abuse all this time as this kind of abuse can be very subtle. Further, abuse in terms of psychological and emotional behaviours are regarded as non-physical and are often overlooked by people. During the interviews, women were asked: “How was the abuse committed against you?” Only a few mentioned that they were emotionally abused. Shockingly, as the interviews progress, they mentioned that they experienced such abuse as being called names, receiving threats and insulting comments or criticism. Further, they also reported false accusations made towards them, such as having an affair with another man. One participant reported that her partner often wore down her sense of self-image and confidence by consistently saying she was worthless. It is believed that the impact of psychological and emotional abuse is severe. It may have longer lasting effects than physical abuse and can cause enduring damage to the sense of well-being of the victims and their children.

Sexual abuse

Two out of the 12 participants reported to have been sexually abused by their partners, but they refused to elaborate on the incidents. Sexual abuse in marriage is a taboo in the black Namibian context. The culture restrains women and men to talk about their sexual life outside the marriage. Hence, sexual abuse is still being treated as personal and private matters within society. Correspondingly, interviewing abused women in regard to their sexual issues was a challenge.

The time when abuse has started

The variable intended to describe the time frame at which women are mostly started to be abused by their partners. The purpose of these question put the claim on the fact that many women either experience violence right at the start of the relationships or after some time. The analysis shows that only four of the 12 women experienced abuse at later stages of their relationship or marriage whereas the majority indicated that they experienced abuse at the start of such relationships. Many women acknowledge that they were physically and emotionally abuse but were ignorant or accepted it to be a normal practice in a relationship.

Escalation of abuse

Of the 12 participants, 11 reported that the abused increased over time. It was important to note whether decreased or increased for the participants, as escalation describes the process by which controlling behaviour becomes more frequent, less disguised, more damaging and closer to fatal over time. Most of the participants reported that the period between the physical abuses became lesser and the assault more fatal as time passed. One participant, who claimed that the abuse decreased, she reported that it stopped.

Factors contributing to physical abuse

This category serves as the main area of the study, as the purpose of the study was to explore the factors that contribute to physical violence against women in Tsumeb. To determine these factors, the women were asked if they remember the first time the abuse happened and what triggered the physical abuse. The results discovered a number of risk factors that may help to understand the attributes of partner abuse occurrences among women in Tsumeb.

Extra marital affairs

Most of the women noticed that many domestic violence incidents actually started when their partners were involved in love affairs with other women. Five of the women's partners were engaged in extramarital relationships. Extramarital affairs were found to be the major contributing factor to physical abuse in some relationships. An external affair is believed to be a common reason for either separation or divorce among the couples in the Tsumeb community.

Alcohol abuse

Two of the participants reported alcohol to have an influence in contributing to the partners’ acts of violence. These women find themselves trapped in the cycle of violence and even justify their partners’ violent behaviours. Men often use alcohol as an excuse not to be held accountable for their abusive behaviour. Further, these participants’ partners accuse them of disrespect and unfaithfulness and the violence escalate if she tries to respond or defend the accusations.

Inferiority complex

Two participants reported the inferiority complex of their partners to contribute to their abuse. One woman indicated that she had a high position at work, while her partner was just a normal shift worker; she also mentioned that he constantly reminded her that her salary is bigger than his. The other participant reported that the partner had no work and started abusing alcohol; she claimed it is when the abuse started.


Two participants indicated having arguments over family and that led to the misunderstanding then physical violence. One of the participants reported that the abuse starting when their baby was born, but continued even when she put the baby in her grandmother’s care. There must have been underlying root causes of the violence, hence the participants did not know.


One participant reported her partner to get angry over anything. She reported that her partner will sometimes come from somewhere and start to quarrel and then the physical violence start.

It can be concluded that numerous factors contributing to physical violence were found in the study. The list of reasons mentioned by the abused women showed the complexity of abusive relationships in the context of Tsumeb. It is important to remember that acts of violence may be influenced by more than one factor and that they usually escalate over time. As a result, without proper professional help to break the cycle of abuse, victims may have a greater tendency to remain trapped in the relationships.

Domestic violence impacts on abused women

The effects of domestic violence range from physical health impacts to psychological and emotional problems. The impacts are massive. Abused women are not the only persons who suffer the damage caused by domestic violence. In most cases, children are found to be very vulnerable to the long-term effects of family violence, just like the mothers themselves.

Physical effects

Nine out of the twelve women reported having been badly affected as some have external physical scars, such as black eyes. One woman disclosed that she contracted HIV during the period of abuse. One participant reported to suffer back pain, another reported to have developed a stomach ulcer. One woman reported that she lost her front teeth, which caused her to be mocked by people the way she was talking. One woman narrated that she was physically abused while she was pregnant and that caused the baby to breach. Three participants reported that they were not really physically affected by the domestic violence.

 Mental effects

It was found that all women in the study reported having experienced psychological and emotional effects due to partner violence. One woman from the total of 12 admitted facing stress. Three women claimed that their lives were full of fear and constant despair. Data shows that all women who participated in the study reported that they self-esteem has been greatly affected. Consequently, their self-confidence was destroyed and isolated themselves to avoid stigmatisation from friends, families and the community. One participant reported to have feelings of anger; two participants reported that they felt embarrassed in the community as they felt that everybody knows they are abused. The women also noted that they felt worthless. In addition, the impact of domestic violence reached the extent of making one participant having suicidal thoughts.

Disclosing the violence

Disclosing partner violence as well as seeking help are the major steps in changing the situation of abusive relationships. It takes a great deal of courage for the abused women to come forward and disclose such abuses. The study allowed the participants to recall how long they have been abused before they disclosed it. At the time of the interviews, it was found that it took the participants between one to 16 years respectively to act on the abuse towards them. There are several reasons that cause victims not to disclose domestic violence.

The study also looked into the barriers which hinder abused women in Tsumeb from disclosing the violent incidents. The results found that the reasons for not disclosing the violence included: of the participants believed that domestic violence was a private family problem, the social stigma attached to the abused women in the community, and fear of retaliation from the partner. Some women reported they believe that their partners loved them but could not handle their anger. Others could not disclose the abuse because of shame and also blaming themselves for the abuse. Two out of the twelve women reported that they did not act, as they regarded the abused as a normal practice. Some of the participants remained with their abusive partners for the reason that the family unit would be incomplete without a father for the children.


The study found that nine participants did not defend themselves during the violent incidence. The reasons the participants disclosed for not defending themselves vary from being scared, being too weak to fight against a man, some thought they were disciplined and that it was a way of showing love. Four out of the twelve participants reported that they tried to defend themselves by fighting back.

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Factors of Physical Domestic Violence. (2022, Feb 04). Retrieved May 30, 2024 , from

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