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NRSG210 | Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Socioeconomic Fac

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Domestic violence is a global issue that negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing. Examine how socioeconomic and psychological factors influence the incidence of domestic violence.

Your essay should address the following:

• domestic violence & socioeconomic factors - a discussion that includes reference to international and Australian sources;

• domestic violence & psychological factors – a discussion that includes factors affecting psychological development in infancy and childhood, psychological trauma and stress, fear and control.

• your discussion may include evaluation of these factors for the perpetrator or victims of domestic violence.



Domestic violence is the kind of violence that occurs in intimate relationships when one partner exerts control and authority over the other. Chiefly, domestic violence may happen to both males and females based on the nature and status of the relationship. In other instances, violence may be perpetrated by a former partner if the relationship did not end well. Based on the current Australian statistics, women are more susceptible to domestic violence than men. In fact, 1 in 6 Australian females reported being subjected to sexual or physical violence by a partner (AIHW, 2018). On the contrary, only 1 in 16 males reported being exposed to this kind of violence (AIHW, 2018). Domestic violence is an undesirable act especially when it occurs repeatedly because it leads to psychological problems. The first section of this essay discusses the relationship between domestic violence and socioeconomic factors. In the second part, the essay will analyse domestic violence and psychological factors.

Domestic violence and socioeconomic factors in Australia and international

Socioeconomic status is an important factor that is associated with domestic violence in Australia and across the world. In this regard, the risk factors for domestic violence include employment status, income level, education level and area of residence (Stockman, Hayashi & Campbell, 2015). Importantly, low income or poverty tends to increase the risk of domestic violence. According to AIHW (2018), women who were unable to pay mortgage or rent on time had 2.6 times higher chances of experiencing domestic violence than the rest of the public. Further, the use of PSS to find women who were at a high risk of domestic violence found that females who were unable to raise $2000 in an emergency, sold an item to get cash or had gone without food in the past twelve months had high chances of experiencing domestic violence (AIHW, 2018). The access to social support is also an essential factor that determines whether a person will experience domestic violence. In this case, females without access to social support are 2.3 times more likely to face violence than with access to social support (AIHW, 2018). Most importantly, families, whereby partners earn low-incomes, they both face high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) (Ahmadabadi, Najman, Williams & Clavarino, 2017). Men and women experience a high level of IPV if the husband gets a low income. On the contrary, in situations where the woman earns a high income or both partners have high incomes the risk of domestic violence is low (Ahmadabadi et al., 2017). In essence, economic hardship is a vital risk factor for domestic violence in many families.

Another risk factor for domestic violence is educational attainment. AIHW (2018) asserts that females whose highest educational attainment is a certificate have higher chances of reporting violence from their partners than females who have attained a bachelor’s degree. In regards to the area of residence, individuals in the remote and rural areas report high rates of domestic violence than those living in metropolitan regions (Dunkley & Philips, 2015). Besides, individuals who face violence in the rural regions might lack access to key services such as transport and communication due to low standards of living. Indigenous females and their kids have higher chances of being exposed to violence than other members of the community (Dunkley & Philips, 2015). For instance, police reports show that the rate of domestic violence is approximately 6 times higher for Indigenous females (Mitchell, 2011). In the year 2014-2015, about 1 in 7 indigenous Australian females faced physical violence, which higher than non-indigenous women (AIHW, 2018).

Apart from Australia, studies from other countries have found that socioeconomic factors increase the risk of domestic violence. A study based in England found that lifetime IPV was 23.8 per cent for females and 11.5 per cent for males (Khalifeh, Hargreaves, Howard & Birdthistle, 2013). Most of the incidences of IPV in England were linked to low income, low educational attainment, low social class and staying in deprived areas (Khalifeh et al., 2013). Similarly, low socioeconomic status is associated with a high prevalence of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia (Fageeh, 2014). In one study involving 2301 females, the incidence of domestic violence was 34 per cent (Fageeh, 2014). Based on this study, financially dependent females, as well as those with high educational attainments, had higher chances of reporting abuse. Most of the abused women in Saudi Arabia reported that their spouse had low educational attainment such as primary and secondary education (Fageeh, 2014). In fact, financially dependent females had approximately 1.5-fold chances of being exposed to physical abuse by their spouse (Fageeh, 2014). Similar results have been replicated in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Research with a study sample of 940 women reveals that the risk of domestic violence is high among individuals living in economically deprived neighbourhoods (Kiss et al., 2012). Females living in poverty are more likely to report IPV in Sao Paulo indicating that poverty reduction may address the issue of domestic violence (Kiss et al., 2012).

Domestic violence and psychological factors

Domestic violence tends to affect psychological development in infants and childhood. Exposure to domestic violence affects a child’s emotional functioning (Wathen & MacMillan, 2013). Indeed, a child’s development is indirectly affected by IPV exposure prenatally mainly due to the mental health implications faced by their mothers (Howell, Barnes, Miller & Graham-Bermann, 2016). The level of the mother’s stress during pregnancy impacts parental warmth, provision of care and the establishment of attachment patterns. Ideally, continued exposure to IPV might interfere with infants and toddlers attachment relationships (Levendosky, Bogat, Huth-Bocks, Rosenblum & von Eye, 2011). Physical or sexual abuse causes a form of trauma that has significant effects on attachment. Hence, a baby’s exposure to domestic violence is a serious stress since it has implications on attachment. Children in utero are often affected by the kind of stress experienced by their mothers (Levendosky et al., 2011). In this case, exposure to psychological trauma, as well as the biological effects of maternal stress, might impact brain development influencing the infant’s responses to stress after birth. Mothers who experience domestic violence while pregnant have substantially negative care giving schemas of the unborn children (Levendosky et al., 2011). In addition, these mothers are more likely to be categorized as non-balanced than mothers who did not face violence during pregnancy. Additionally, exposure to IPV postpartum progressively plays a fundamental role in the development of child attachment. A child has high chances of maintaining or developing insecure attachments at the age of four years if his or her mother experiences domestic violence postpartum or prenatally (Levendosky et al., 2011). Nevertheless, mothers who leave abusive relationship immediately after giving birth may exhibit balanced postpartum maternal expressions, and the baby may become securely attached (Levendosky et al., 2011).

Domestic violence also influences psychological functioning due to fear and lack of control. Exposure to IPV causes children to develop maladaptive or atypical behaviours, which are adjustment issues (Howell et al., 2016). Furthermore, exposure to IPV may result in posttraumatic stress symptoms among children even in infancy. When mothers develop traumatic symptoms because of IPV, the symptoms might also be replicated in their children (Levendosky, Bogat & Martinez-Torteya, 2013). Besides, physiological functioning problems may occur to children if their mothers are subjected to domestic violence (Howell et al., 2016). Toddlers who are subjected to domestic violence have high chances of experiencing cortisol dysregulation. Notably, this kind of dysregulation might be attributed to the adaptation of chronic stress (Howell et al., 2016). Infants of mothers who experience violence may exhibit low cortisol reactivity.  

Pre-school and school going children tend to develop various cognitive and psychological problems following exposure to domestic violence. Even if the children have developed an attachment to their parents, they may still develop critical problems that affect their ability to learn and interact with others. Most importantly, children who are exposed to violence may have language impairments, learning disabilities and mental health issues (Perkins & Graham-Bermann, 2012). In the long-term, these neurocognitive issues interact and establish an intricate web of disabilities and deficits. In most cases, the development of learning and mental health problems occurs parallel. The biological pathways for the development of these problems imply that multiple body responses are involved such as neuroendocrine system response and neuroanatomical functional and structural impairments (Perkins & Graham-Bermann, 2012). An important question in regards to domestic violence is whether there are significant differences between violence-exposed children and those not exposed to violence. In an effort to explore this question, it is evident that children who have been exposed to violence exhibit particular developmental trajectories. These children exhibit social withdrawal or behaviour regression, which affects their ability to interact with peers mainly in a school setting (Perkins & Graham-Bermann, 2012). Also, they face a higher risk of neurobiological delay than children from parents who did not experience IPV (Udo, Sharps, Bronner & Hossain, 2016). Evidently, these problems develop in young children who are subjected to interpersonal violence, witness violence or are maltreated (Perkins & Graham-Bermann, 2012).  


The incidence of domestic violence in Australia and across the world is still high despite the introduction of mitigation initiatives. Based on this essay, low socioeconomic status is positively linked to domestic violence. Ideally, families with low incomes, low education attainment and living in rural areas are likely to experience a high incidence of domestic violence. Even indigenous Australian women face higher rates of domestic violence than non-indigenous females. Subjection to domestic violence is a risk factor for psychological problems such as mental health problems, cognitive functioning, and learning problems. In essence, the living standards of families of low socioeconomic status should be improved to solve the problem of domestic violence and children exposed to violence should be given immediate medical attention to prevent psychological problems.  


Ahmadabadi, Z., Najman, J. M., Williams, G. M., & Clavarino, A. M. (2017). Income, Gender, and Forms of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 886260517719541. doi:10.1177/0886260517719541

AIHW. (2018). Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018. Cat. no. FDV 2.Canberra: AIHW.

Dunkley, A., & Philips, J. (2015). Domestic violence in Australia: a quick guide to the issues. Commonwealth of Australia.

Fageeh, W. M. K. (2014). Factors associated with domestic violence: A cross-sectional survey among women in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. BMJ Open, 4, 1-8.

Howell, K. H., Barnes, S. E., Miller, L. E., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2016). Developmental variations in the impact of intimate partner violence exposure during childhood. Journal of injury and violence research, 8(1), 43.

Khalifeh,H.,  Hargreaves, J., Howard, L. M., & Birdthistle, I. (2013). Intimate partner violence and socioeconomic deprivation in England: Findings from a national cross-sectional survey. American Journal of Public Health, 103(3), 462-472.

Kiss, L., Schraiber, L. B., Heise, L., Zimmerman, C., Gouveia, N., & Watts, C. (2012). Gender-based violence and socioeconomic inequalities: Does living in more deprived neighbourhoods increase women’s risk of intimate partner violence?. Social Science & Medicine, 74(8), 1172-1179.

Levendosky, A. A., Bogat, G. A., & Martinez-Torteya, C. (2013). PTSD symptoms in young children exposed to intimate partner violence. Violence against women, 19(2), 187-201.

Levendosky, A. A., Bogat, G. A., Huth-Bocks, A. C., Rosenblum, K., & von Eye, A. (2011). The effects of domestic violence on the stability of attachment from infancy to preschool. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40(3), 398-410.

Mitchell, L. (2011). Domestic violence in Australia – An overview of the issue. Commonwealth of Australia

Perkins, S., & Graham-Bermann, S. (2012). Violence exposure and the development of school-related functioning: Mental health, neurocognition, and learning. Aggression and violent behavior, 17(1), 89-98.

Stockman, J. K., Hayashi, H., & Campbell, J. C. (2015). Intimate partner violence and its health impact on ethnic minority women. Journal of Women's Health, 24(1), 62-79.

Udo, I. E., Sharps, P., Bronner, Y., & Hossain, M. B. (2016). Maternal intimate partner violence: relationships with language and neurological development of infants and toddlers. Maternal and child health journal, 20(7), 1424-1431.

Wathen, C. N., & MacMillan, H. L. (2013). Children’s exposure to intimate partner violence: impacts and interventions. Paediatrics & child health, 18(8), 419-422.

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