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Domestic violence has a significant impact on the health and well-being of women both in the immediate and longer term, continuing even after the relationship has ended.  The psychological consequences of violence can be as serious as the physical effects. Exposure to violence leads to poorer physical health overall compared with women who have not experienced violence, and it increases the risk of women developing a range of health problems (World Health Organisation 2000).  One Australian study found intimate partner violence was the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44 (VicHealth 2004). 

Some immediate health impacts may include:

  • Physical injuries - such as cuts, scrapes and bruises, fractures, dislocated bones
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Miscarriage or early delivery
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Knife wounds
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Homicide

Longer term health impacts may include:

  • Gastro-intestinal disorders associated with stress
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Gynaecological problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Alcohol and substance misuse
  • Smoking throughout pregnancy
  • Homelessness
  • Suicide
  • Homicide 
World Health Organization 2000, Women and Mental Health: An Evidence Based Review, World Health Organisation, Geneva
Vic Health 2004, Violence Against Women in Australia as a Determinant of Mental Health and Wellbeing

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