Factors that Increase Likelihood of Domestic Violence Among Women

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women have been victims of violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. For some women, the risk is increased due to certain factors, which are outlined in our Violence Against Women textbook, and previewed in this blog post.


Attackers may use pregnancy as a form of manipulation and entrapment in the circumstance of intimate partner violence. Violence may occur as the attention (or more attention) shifts to the mother and the baby. Women engaged in this situation often lose the ability to make personal choices for her and the baby and lack the ability to engage in proactive family planning activities.

When intimate partner violence occurs during pregnancy, the mother and child can sustain trauma, which can sometimes be fatal. The mother also has an increased risk of substance abuse, depression, PTSD, and attempted suicide. Violence typically does not end after the pregnancy is over, which can cause negative side effects on the child.


Because of their inexperience and lack of knowledge with handling complex relationships and establishing healthy boundaries, young children and adolescence are at higher risk of not only intimate partner violence, but also pregnancy.


A population considered to be “hidden victims,” older women may be the least likely to report abuse. Although disclosing abuse within a marriage is more acceptable and encouraged now, at the time the abuse was occurring it is possible that disclosure would have been less socially acceptable and therefore not reported. This mentality may last with them and keep them from reporting in present-day situations.

Older women also face internal barriers, including feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, emotional gridlock, secrecy, and self-blame. With time, it is possible for older victims to be more open about their past abuse.


For physically disabled women, it is more likely they have experienced abuse for longer periods of time and less likely to report. They may fear retribution and have heightened vulnerability due to isolation. In addition, screening for domestic violence is often overlooked or not considered for those with disabilities.


Women who are in abusive relationships with men who are HIV/AIDS positive may feel victimized by their male partners and have reduced protective powers as they lack control over sexual activities.

Those women who are HIV positive may experience a range of abusive behaviors by partners, including sexual slavery, confinement, stalking, threatening behaviors, physical assault, and sexual assault. Additionally, women may feel a sense of defeat and may not go for HIV-related care, or they may miss an appointment for HIV treatment.

Psychiatric Co-Morbidity

Psychiatric Co-Morbidity, or individuals with two or more psychiatric diagnoses, may have personality characteristics such as aggression, coercion, and dominance coupled with poor interpersonal skills which may increase the risk of violence in intimate relationships. Studies show this psychiatric patient status has been associated with violence risk.


If you or someone you know is at risk of domestic violence or is experiencing domestic violence, contact the national domestic violence hotline. If you are someone who helps those who have experienced abuse, maltreatment, or neglect, our books can offer valuable information to you in your work. For more information on what we do, check out our website or subscribe to our newsletter.


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