Impact on Women
The effects of physical abuse may be obvious: black eyes, cuts and bruises. Emotional abuse, including threats, stalking, or constantly being undermined, is no less damaging but can be much more difficult to detect. It often reduces the victim to a state of uncertainty and fear, shame and self-doubt. It can lead to loss of self-confidence and inhibit a woman from acting decisively. When victims turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the pain, they are often judged. This is the aim of the abuser: to gain control over the victim.
For more information about the impact of abuse on women, click on the following:
The woman may believe she is an inadequate parent.
• The abuser may say she is an unfit mother and the cause of the children’s problems.
• She may be prevented by the abuser from creating structure and consistency in her life.
• Children may have problems that make her believe she is a bad parent.
• She may fear having her children taken by child protection authorities.
The woman may lose the respect of her children.
The woman may lose the respect of some or all of her children because:
• Children may see her as an acceptable target of abuse.
• Children may disregard her parental authority and not follow her rules.
• Children may not value her or may be ashamed of her.
The woman may believe excuses the abuser provides for his behavior.
The woman may believe excuses the abuser provides for his behavior because:
• She may believe the abuse is her fault and try to change her behaviour or feel guilty about its effect on
• She may believe that the abuse is caused by his use of alcohol or by stress.
• She may believe that the abuse is culturally or religiously appropriate.
• She may believe that men and boys should have more privileges and power in the family.
The woman may change the way she parents in response to the abuser’s parenting style.
The woman may change the way she parents in response to the abuser’s parenting style because:
• She may be very lenient to balance the abuser’s strict parenting.
• She may be too strict to try and keep children from annoying the abuser.
• She may make age-inappropriate or unreasonable demands on children to calm the abuser.
• She may be afraid to use discipline because the children have been through so much.
• She may be left to do all the demanding parts of parenting while he does the fun parts.
The woman may not be able to manage daily life. She may be dealing with the physical or emotional effects of abuse.
The woman may not be able to manage daily life because:
• She may experience depression, anxiety or poor sleep habits that stop her from caring for the
children or providing for their daily needs.
• If the abuser stops her from using birth control, she may have too many children born too closely together.
• She may be denied enough money to meet children’s basic needs for food, etc.
• Her parenting may be reactive rather than proactive so that she responds to crises rather than
• She may avoid being seen in public if there are visible signs of abuse.
The woman may use survival strategies with negative effects.
The woman may use survival strategies with negative effects such as:.
• She may use alcohol or drugs to excess.
• She may leave the children with inadequate caretakers to get a break.
• She may avoid being at home (for example, working double shifts).
The woman’s bond with her children may be compromised.
Children may be angry and blame the mother for failing to protect them or leave the abuser.
• The mother may be prevented by the abuser from comforting a distressed child.
• One child may assume the caretaking role for the mother.
• Children may expect the mother to leave (or be deported) and may become anxious or emotionally closed to protect themselves from possible loss.
The woman may be trapped in competition for children’s loyalties
The woman may be trapped in competition for children’s loyalties because:
• The abuser may attempt to shape child’s view of himself as good and the mother as bad.
• The abuser may present himself as the fun parent who has no rules.
• After separation, the abuser may use promises of a great life at his house to get children to support
his bid for custody.
• The abuser may have more money and offer more material goods and a nicer home.
For more information, see http://women.gov.ns.ca and click on Freedom from Violence.
“The doctor says my son’s got ADHD and wants to put him on medication. But I know he’s that way because of what he’s seen. He’s traumatized.”
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