How Does Abuse From Your Partner Affect Family Wellness?

If your wellness is under threat from physical or sexual abuse, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 35% of women worldwide have been victims of physical or sexual abuse from an intimate partner, which can further impact their mental wellbeing.


In a new publication focused on violence against women and the resulting health effects, WHO reported that the physical trauma of domestic violence isn’t the only wellness concern facing 35% of the world’s women, but it can also cause a wide range of psychological traumas. If your partner is physically or sexually abusive, you can experience a sense of hopelessness which feeds into substance abuse issues, and stress which can even lead to failed immunity and organ function. Family wellness may also be affected by your partner’s abuse – even if he never touches your children – as the health of children birthed by mothers, who are victims, is often also likely to be impacted.


WHO outlined the psychological issues related to domestic violence; rooted in stressful home environments in which you feel like you have no control over the painful things you endure each day from someone ‘close’ to you. These are:


  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal tendencies


The latter two issues often arise as a coping mechanism if you feel especially depressed, helpless, and anxious about your situation. According to, a support website for women who have suffered sexual violence, about 30 to 40% of eating disorder patients are survivors of sexual trauma. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders adds that 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.


However, mood disorders created by domestic abuse, albeit preventable, often go unnoticed as they are often masked in substance use and abuse. In Canada, a 2004 study found that 31% of those who suffered a mood disorder like depression were also alcohol-dependent. WHO reports that, as a woman experiencing domestic violence, you are 2.3 times more likely to develop an alcohol abuse issue and 2.6 times more likely to be depressed or suffer anxiety. WHO argues that we need to remove the stigma associated with the poor health that results from intimate partner violence.

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