Hesperian Health Guides

Harmful Effects of Violence

This content is from
page 320 of Where Women Have No Doctor

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Violence not only hurts women. It also affects their children, and the whole community.


In women, men’s violence can cause:

  • lack of motivation or lack of a sense of self-worth.
  • mental health problems, like anxiety and problems eating and sleeping. As a way to cope with the violence, women may begin harmful or reckless behavior—such as using drugs or alcohol, or having many sex partners.
  • serious pain and injuries: broken bones, burns, black eyes, cuts, bruises, as well as headaches, belly pain, and muscle pains that may continue for many years after the abuse happens.
  • sexual health problems. Many women suffer miscarriages from being beaten during pregnancy. They may also suffer from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or be infected with HIV as a result of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse often also leads to a fear of having sex, pain during sex, and lack of desire.
  • death.


When a woman is abused at home,
her children believe that this is how
girls and women should be treated.
a boy chasing and pushing a girl who looks scared

In children, seeing their mothers abused can often cause:

  • angry or aggressive behavior— copying the violence. Or they may become very quiet and withdraw to escape notice.
  • nightmares and other fears. Children in abusive families often do not eat well, grow and learn more slowly than other children, and have many illnesses, like stomach aches, headaches, and asthma.
  • injury and death if the violence is turned on them.


In a community, violence can cause:

  • the cycle of violence to continue into new generations.
  • the continued false belief that men are better than women.
  • everyone’s quality of life to suffer because women take part less in their communities when they are silenced or killed by the violence.

This page was updated:23 Oct 2019