Understanding the impact of domestic abuse on you and your children

Domestic abuse can have serious social, physical and psychological effects. These effects impact the person who experiences the abuse and also their children.

Verified by La Maison des Femmes on 22/09/2023

Effects on you

Regardless of the nature of the abuse you experience, it can have a significant short, medium or long-term effect on your health and relationships.

If you experience one or more of the symptoms listed below, it is important to talk to a trusted person, if possible a professional, who can support you.

Our physical, sexual and mental health page provides information on how and where to access health care and get psychological support. 

  • The psychological effects of domestic abuse can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • depression
    • shame
    • guilt
    • loss of self-esteem
    • fear
    • anger
    • anxiety
    • despair
    • difficulty making decisions
    • confusion
    • post-traumatic stress
    • hypervigilance
    • inappropriate or aggressive behaviour that is out of character 
    • suicidal ideation
    • suicide attempts.
  • The physical effects of domestic abuse can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • sleeping difficulties
    • nightmares
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)
    • digestive difficulties
    • attention difficulties
    • severe fatigue
    • chronic pain (head, stomach, back)
    • hypertension
    • physical injuries
    • use of drugs, alcohol and/or medication.
  • The social effects of domestic abuse can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • isolation
    • shrinking social network
    • inefficiency at work
    • absenteeism
    • financial difficulties
    • difficulty managing day-to-day activities
    • difficulty meeting your children’s emotional needs.

It is possible to overcome these effects. You are not alone: there are highly trained professionals to support you in your recovery.

Effects on children

Your children are the primary witnesses of the abuse, insults and control that your partner subjects you to. Far from being mere witnesses, they can also be considered as having experienced abuse in their own right, because the abuse affects them too.

They are directly exposed to abuse when:

  • they witness violent scenes
  • they hear violent words or movement from another room
  • they are the target of abuse.

They are indirectly exposed to violence when:

  • they sense the distress the perpetrator causes you
  • they see the effects of the perpetrator's abuse on you
  • they live in an atmosphere of tension, fear and insecurity caused by the perpetrator
  • they do not receive the care and support they need.

Domestic abuse can have a considerable impact on their health and well-being. You are in no way responsible for this. The perpetrator of the abuse is the only person responsible.

  • In children, the psychological effects can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • sadness
    • anxiety
    • guilt
    • withdrawal
    • confusion
    • aggression
    • fear of abandonment
    • low self-confidence and self-esteem
    • suicidal ideation
    • suicide attempts.
  • In children, the physical effects can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • sleeping difficulties
    • difficulty concentrating
    • body pain
    • bedwetting
    • eating disorders
    • developmental delays
    • excessive crying
    • use of drugs and alcohol.
  • In children, the social effects can manifest themselves in many ways: 

    • shyness
    • difficulty forming relationships
    • isolation
    • high dependence on the non-abusive parent
    • fear of inviting friends home
    • aggressive behaviour towards friends
    • disengagement at school
    • absenteeism
    • delinquent behaviour.

It is possible to overcome these issues. Highly trained professionals can support your children in their recovery from domestic abuse.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
    • Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
    • For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website www.solidaritefemmes.org.
  • Associations” are organisations that offer a range of services.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • The services offered vary considerably from one “association” to another. They can give you advice and sometimes they can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • You will find a list of “associations” specialising in helping victims of violence near you in this directory by selecting your French department.
  • The “Centres d'Information sur les Droits des Femmes et des Familles (CIDFF)” helps the general public, especially women, in many areas such as: legal rights, health, employment searches, training, business creation, and even childcare.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you of your rights and the steps to take. Some centres can  assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the “CIDFF” in your area in this directory

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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