Consequences of violence in women and children

Over time, violence wreaks havoc on a person’s physical and psychological health. As the consequences are many and varied, it is often difficult to see the manifestations of the victim’s suffering as being directly related to the violence he or she is experiencing. A victim of violence has normal reactions to an abnormal situation.


For more information see SOS violence conjugale



In addition to physical injuries resulting from aggression, violence also has indirect effects on the physical health of victims. Somatization due to constant exposure to stress, chronic pain syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, victims experience decreased physical function and a more degraded general state of health which can lead to disability or death.


The same is true for psychological health . Violence greatly affects victims’ mental health, and it is sometimes difficult for healthcare professionals to relate the symptoms to the real situation they are experiencing. Feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem can lead to different states:


  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychosomatic disorders
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts
  • Post traumatic stress disorder


Different research has also shown that violence affects the sex life and pregnancy of female victims, which puts both mother and fetus at risk. It can also lead to the following consequences:


  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STIs)
  • Complications during pregnancy
  • Unplanned pregnancy or forced abortion
  • Miscarriage, premature labor
  • Postnatal depression
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Gynecological disorders


Children exposed to violence


Children who are victims of or exposed to violence all experience the consequences to varying degrees. Usually they experience fear, anxiety and feelings of helplessness. 

Statutory weight delay 


Disruption of sleep and eating habits 

Developmental delays 

Manifestations of regression 


Acts of aggression


Fears, terrors

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Over dependence on the mother


Deficiency of verbal, intellectual and motor skills

Aggression, irritability

Somatic complaints

Decreased self-esteem and self-confidence

Aggression towards friends, siblings, parents

Symptoms of PTSD

Poor results at school


Stereotypical  beliefs

Confusion and  ambivalence

Conflict of loyalty

Feeling of being responsible for the violence and having  a duty to act.

Fears and terrors

Problems with school learning

Difficulty concentrating

Rationalization and explanation of violence as natural

Violence in romantic relationships

Lack of self esteem

Symptoms of PTSD

Use of alcohol or drugs

Leaving home

Dropping out of school

Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts




Tendency to make fun of feelings

Seductive  behavior, manipulation or opposition



Children exposed to violence may be wrongly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), whereas if the abuse was known about they could be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, the possibility of violence in their family environment is rarely checked, which makes it difficult to detect the true cause of their symptoms. They could be considered to be good candidates for a medication like ritalin. Several symptoms are common to ADHD or PTSD – difficulty concentrating, problems with inattention, distraction in daily tasks, irritability, disruptive behavior …


Collecting children’s testimonies  


A safe space and non-judgmental listening must be provided. It is important not to promise the child the information will be kept a secret. You must listen to the child and if you feel that they are in a compromising situation, do not hesitate to contact a shelter for support and advice. You can also contact the DYP [Director of Youth Protection]. 



The multiple facets of violence: from awareness to support by Mirépi maison d’hébergement inc. [sheltered accommodation]