Is domestic violence a private matter or a public issue?

Author: Krishna Shroff, student of GLS University

“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.”

― George Orwell, 1984

Pain is a part of women’s life. They are born with pain that they feel for  most of their lives. In the majority of domestic violence cases the survivors are women. We live in a patriarchal society, the men were always assumed to have the power and the upper hand. Physical abuse was done to establish power and control over someone. It was the easy way to maintain the fear. 

Women should be worshipped, this is what has been said in the ancient scriptures and texts. But since ancient times physical abuse has been prevailing. Men forget the humanity of women and treat them as mere objects. It is manipulative behaviour destroying relationships and families. Mostly domestic violence is between spouses but sometimes it also takes place among the family members. Types of domestic violence: 

  • Abuse can be physical, emotional, economical, sexual and psychological. 
  • Physical abuse involves hurting or trying to hurt a partner or giving them bodily harm. Emotional abuse is undermining a person’s self-worth through constant criticism.
  • Economic abuse is when someone tries to control another person by taking charge of all the money, limiting access to funds, or preventing them from going to school or work. 
  • Sexual abuse is a deeply distressing and harmful act that occurs when one individual coerces or compels their partner to engage in sexual activities without their freely given and informed consent. This violation of personal boundaries can have profound and lasting effects on the survivor’s physical and emotional well-being, highlighting the importance of fostering consent, respect, and communication within intimate relationships
  • Psychological abuse encompasses a range of harmful behaviours that induce fear through intimidation, such as making threats of physical harm to oneself, the partner, or children. It can also manifest through the destruction of pets and property, manipulative “mind games,” or the imposition of isolation from friends, family, school, and work. Recognizing the seriousness of these tactics underscores the need to prioritise emotional well-being and create relationships founded on mutual respect, empathy, and open communication.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted between 2019 and 2021, a concerning 29.3 percent of married Indian women aged 18 to 49 have reported experiencing domestic or sexual violence. Furthermore, the survey reveals that 3.1 percent of pregnant women in the same age group have endured physical violence during their pregnancy. These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to address and eradicate domestic and gender-based violence, emphasising the importance of fostering a society that prioritises the safety and well-being of all individuals. But these numbers are only of women who have reported themselves; there are many cases that go unreported everyday. Victims don’t report the case because of fear, the shame, and also sometimes the freedom. They became afraid of freedom because they don’t know how to be free of fear. 

Domestic violence is a complex and multifaceted issue with various contributing factors. There is no single explanation for why domestic violence occurs, as each case is unique and influenced by a combination of individual, interpersonal, societal, and cultural factors. 

Some common factors associated with domestic violence include:

1. Power and Control: Domestic violence often stems from a desire to exert power and control over another person. Abusers may use physical, emotional, or financial means to manipulate and dominate their victims.

2. History of Abuse: Individuals who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence in their childhood may be more likely to perpetrate or become victims of such behaviour as adults. Learned behaviour can be perpetuated through generations.

3. Substance Abuse: The use of alcohol or drugs can contribute to violent behaviour. Substance abuse may lower inhibitions and impair judgement, leading to an increased likelihood of aggressive actions.

4. Mental Health Issues: Individuals with mental health disorders may struggle with managing emotions and may be more prone to violent outbursts. However, it is crucial to note that not everyone with a mental health condition engages in abusive behaviour.

5. Social and Cultural Factors: Societal norms and cultural beliefs can influence attitudes toward gender roles and power dynamics within relationships. Societies that tolerate or normalise gender-based violence may inadvertently contribute to the prevalence of domestic violence.

6. Economic Stress: Financial difficulties and economic instability can contribute to increased stress within a household, potentially leading to conflict and violence.

7. Lack of Education and Awareness: Some individuals may not be aware of healthy relationship dynamics or lack the necessary skills to manage conflicts constructively. Education and awareness programs can play a crucial role in preventing domestic violence.

8. Isolation: Abusers often seek to isolate their victims from friends, family, and support networks. Isolation can make it more challenging for victims to seek help or escape abusive situations.

Domestic Violence Act,2005

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted in India to address and combat the issue of domestic violence against women. The primary objective of this legislation is to provide legal protection and remedies for women who are victims of domestic violence.

Prior to the enactment of this law, there was a lack of specific legal provisions that comprehensively addressed the various forms of abuse and violence that women often faced within their homes. The Domestic Violence Act recognizes that domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse but also includes emotional, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. It aims to provide a legal framework to address these different forms of violence and to ensure the safety and well-being of women in domestic relationships.

Key Features of the Act:

1. Right to Residence (Section 17):

   – Safeguards the right to residence, offering protection and stability for individuals affected by domestic violence.

2. Economic Relief for Victims:

   – Acknowledges economic violence and provides measures for economic relief, ensuring financial support for those affected.

3. Recognition of Verbal and Emotional Violence:

   – Takes a comprehensive approach by recognizing and addressing verbal and emotional violence, broadening the scope of protection.

4. Temporary Custody of Children:

   – Prioritises the welfare of children by granting temporary custody to the deserving parent, ensuring their well-being during legal proceedings.

5. Swift Judicial Resolution:

   – Mandates timely justice with a commitment to deliver judgments within 60 days of filing a case, expediting the legal process for the benefit of the parties involved.

6. Multiple Judgments in a Single Case:

   – Allows for the consideration of various aspects within a single case, ensuring a holistic resolution and addressing multifaceted issues.

7. Parallel Filings Regardless of Other Cases:

   – Permits the filing of cases under the PWDV Act, even if other legal proceedings are underway between the involved parties, offering an additional layer of protection.

8. Appellate Rights for Both Parties:   

– Ensures fairness and equity by granting the right of appeal to both the petitioner and the respondent, promoting a balanced and just legal process.

Why domestic violence is a public issue?

Abusing is a disease that kills people, families and societies. It continues through generations till someone decides to stop it. The victims feel that this is what they deserve and this is what their life is, they don’t know a way forward and slowly they lose their self respect in the process. It’s important to talk and get help. Trauma that domestic violence can cause is such a deep wound that it takes years to heal. The public health implications of domestic violence are profound, encompassing physical injuries, mental health disorders, and long-term psychological trauma for victims.  The prevalence of domestic violence, coupled with underreporting, underscores its societal significance. The social costs associated with domestic violence, including legal interventions, social services, and lost productivity, place a strain on public resources. This issue is often interconnected with broader social problems such as poverty, substance abuse, and homelessness, emphasising the need for a comprehensive approach to address the root causes of these interconnected challenges. Children exposed to domestic violence suffer consequences that transcend individual households, impacting their development and perpetuating cycles of violence. As a public issue, domestic violence also has implications in the workplace, affecting employee productivity and well-being.  Recognizing it as a public concern emphasises the need for a collective response, involving public institutions, healthcare, law enforcement, and community organisations. The intergenerational cycle of abuse, violations of human rights, and the disruption of education further highlight the broader implications, emphasising that addressing domestic violence is a shared responsibility for the well-being and safety of society as a whole. 


In conclusion, the pervasive issue of domestic violence requires not only legal interventions and support systems but a profound societal shift in attitudes and behaviours. The scars left by this insidious crime extend beyond the immediate physical and emotional trauma, permeating the very fabric of our communities. To truly address domestic violence, we must cultivate a culture of empathy, accountability, and education.

It is imperative that we acknowledge the complex dynamics at play, recognizing that the roots of this violence often lie in deeply ingrained societal norms and power imbalances. Breaking the cycle demands a collective commitment to dismantling these structures and fostering environments where love and respect triumph over control and coercion.

As we strive for a world free from the shackles of domestic violence, let us amplify the voices of survivors, providing them with the platforms to share their stories and inspire change. In doing so, we cultivate a society that refuses to turn a blind eye, but instead, stands united against the darkness that persists within our homes. Only through unwavering solidarity, education, and a commitment to eradicating the roots of abuse can we hope to build a future where every home is a haven, free from the haunting shadows of domestic violence.


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