Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence

Health Consequences

  • The physical and emotional health consequences of violence against women are profound and enduring.
  • Even for women who are able to leave abusive relationships, the consequences often persist long after the violence has ended, and in some cases continue throughout the woman’s lifetime.
  • In general, the more prolonged and severe the abuse, the greater its impact on a woman’s physical and mental health.

Economic Consequences

  • The economic costs related to violence against women are staggering and place a tremendous burden on society, both with respect to lost productivity and increased demands on health and social services.
  • These costs include short-term medical and dental treatment for injuries, long-term physical and psychological care, lost time at work, and use of transition homes and crisis centres.
  • Indirect costs include the increased utilization of health care services in the immediate and long-term aftermath of abuse including a greater number of surgeries, visits to health providers, hospital stays, and mental health consultations than those who have not been similarly victimized.

Impact on Children

Physical Effects: 

  • Allergies
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Somatic complaints (e.g., headaches)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., nausea, diarrhea)
  • Sleep difficulties (e.g., nightmares, bedwetting)
  • Speech, hearing, and visual problems

Psychological and Behavioural Effects:

  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Worry and frustration 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Low social competence
  • Increased aggression with adults and other children
  • Attachment problems
  • Difficulties in school performance
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal behaviour and self harm
  • Conflicts with the law
Women and Children
Woman Abuse: Screening, Identification and Initial Response
Background Information