Changing how the public views domestic violence

Women who choose to stay in abusive relationships occupy a morally ambiguous identity category. They are at once pitied for their victimhood and shamed for their participation in it. Educating the public on how prevalent abuse actually is, and what their role can be in helping a victim is the first step towards safety for all.
People Impacted
$ 97B
Potential Funding
I have this challenge
the problem
Nature and Context

One in four women experiences severe physical violence by an intimate partner (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), and according to a 2018 public opinion survey from The Allstate Foundation, most Americans (62 percent) rank domestic violence as an extremely serious issue, but one-third think discussing it is taboo—a 10 percent increase since the 2014 survey (34 percent vs. 24 percent) - (Purple Purse)

There are many moral debates about the negotiation of meanings around women who stay in abusive relationships. Women, especially those in the public eye, are in a lose-lose situation. If they stay, they are considered weak, but if they leave, critics accuse them of not valuing the family unit. We see these judgments passed and persist on social platforms and in the media. By studying data on how the public reacts to stories of domestic violence, we can better educate the public about the actual complicated matter of choosing to stay or leave, and change the focus onto the perpetrators committing these heinous crimes instead.

Symptoms and Causes

The Persons Involved (GHWS)

Domestic violence is a choice and it is a learned behavior. For these reasons, it is difficult to say that domestic violence is caused by any one single factor. However, the following beliefs and attitudes are common for abusers:

  • Sense of entitlement

  • A belief they should have power and control over their partner

  • Belief that they can get away with it

  • Learned experience that being abusive gets them what they want

  • Belief that their lives should take priority

The Social Forces Involved (GHWS)

Social forces also play a pivotal role in shaping an abuser’s values and attitudes, as well as creating an environment where abusive behavior is rewarded and unpunished. The following social forces may contribute to perpetrators’ decision to abuse:

  • Gender-role identity – Limited definitions of “appropriate masculine behavior” that glorify aggression, violence, and dominance.

  • Family – Messages that men should have the power and make decisions in a household and/or intimate relationship (e.g. “a man’s home is his castle”)

  • Media – Portrayals of women as objects; glorification of violence and violent, coerced, and non-consensual sex; limited male and female roles.

  • Peer group – Social pressure to conform to a limited definition of masculinity, which centers on devaluing women.

  • Sports – Competition, aggression, and dominance are praised. Teammates that demonstrate sexist and/or abusive behavior are not held accountable.

  • Impunity – Many perpetrators do not face any negative repercussions for their sexist attitudes and abusive behaviors. If they are challenged, their excuses are accepted (e.g. blaming the behavior on alcohol use, stress, or being provoked by the victim)

the impact
Negative Effects

Domestic and family violence tears lives apart. I in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence, or both, caused by someone known to them. It affects women, children, the family and the community. And it has big personal, social and economic effects (NSW).

Effects on the victim

  • Death, illness, injury and disability — domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death, illness and disability for women aged under 45

  • Emotional and psychological trauma — the devastating impact on an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health including depression, shame, anger and suicide

  • Homelessness — nearly one-third of people in NSW seeking help from homelessness services say domestic and family violence is an issue

  • Use of alcohol and other drugs to deal with the pain

  • Physical health injuries and problems, which may not get medically treated

Effects on the family

  • Violence and the threat of violence at home creates fear and can destroy family environments and lead to the break-up of families

  • Frequent moving to avoid the abuser

  • Regular household conflict

  • Child protection or police involvement

Effects on the community

  • Children growing up without learning about positive and respectful relationships

  • Abusers going to prison

  • Higher rates of alcohol and other drug use, and mental health problems

  • Domestic and family violence is estimated to cost the NSW economy more than $4.5 billion each year

Effects on children

Of those women who experience violence, more than 50% have children in their care. Children and young people don't have to see the violence to be affected by it. Studies show that living with domestic violence can cause physical and emotional harm to children and young people in the following ways:

  • ongoing anxiety and depression

  • eating and sleeping disturbances

  • physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches

  • low self-esteem

  • self-harm

  • be aggressive towards friends and school mates, using bullying behavior or become a target of bullying feel guilt or blame themselves for the violence

  • have trouble forming positive relationships

  • struggle with going to school and doing school work

  • difficulty concentrating

Economic Impact

Impacts the victims short term and long term emotionally, physically and in the end financially

Domestic violence obviously affects victims in many damaging ways; physically, emotionally, and beyond. A 2018 survey by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) revealed just how deeply domestic violence can affect survivors' education, career, and economic stability over the course of their lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the financial impact of domestic violence ranges from individual to societal. In fact, they say the lifetime economic cost associated with medical services, lost productivity from paid work, criminal justice, and other costs, was $3.6 trillion. The cost of domestic violence over a victim’s lifetime was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men (Forbes). This total comes from:

  • Medical Costs

  • Disrupted Education

  • Disrupted Ability to Work

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment on Top of Partner Abuse 

  • Financial Abuse and Damage to Credit

  • Reproductive Coercion

Success Metrics
  • Promote October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

  • Financially support organizations that shelter women and children survivors of abuse like the Brenda Strattford Centre in Calgary, AB Canada by purchasing Good that Gives shirts to raise awareness and funding for their center.

  • Educate the general public about how leaving is the most dangerous time/decision for a domestic violence victim

  • Normalize the topic of domestic violence so people feel comfortable talking about it

  • Ensure victims have access to resources at more places than the doctors' office

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Public Health Departments

  • Police Departments Nationwide

  • The American Justice System

  • Men, women and children

  • Public health officials

  • Lawyers

  • Social Workers

  • Police Officers

  • Counselors

financial insights
Current Funding


The YWCA reaches 2.3 million women, girls and their families through more than 200 local associations in 45 states and the District of Columbia. We provide critical programs, including domestic and sexual violence services, through 12,500 staff members and 52,000 volunteers.

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in 2003, our organization helps a myriad of professionals who work with victims and perpetrators; law enforcement; criminal justice professionals such as prosecutors, judges and probation officers; health care professionals including emergency response teams, nurses and doctors; domestic violence and sexual assault advocates and service providers; and counselors and social workers.

Avon Foundation for Women – the Foundation is committed to helping educate and empower women and bringing an end to domestic violence. As a significant leader in women's empowerment and health, we are proud to expand our support for the domestic violence cause with the new program Speak Out Against Domestic Violence, New York, NY.

Ideas Description

Make apps and services readily available and discreet so people can reach out for help even in tense situations:

Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via a medium people already use and trust: text. Anyone can connect with a Crisis Counselor instantly. School systems, companies, governments, nonprofits, and other organizations partner with us to make sure their employees, grantees, constituents and students have the support they need.

Callisto's vision is a world where sexual assault is rare and survivors are supported. Our mission is to create technology that combats sexual assault, supports survivors, and advances justice. Callisto Campus is designed to detect repeat perpetrators and empower victims to make the reporting decision that feels right for them. Callisto is a nonprofit that gives survivors a new way to take action.

We Said Enough app creates a community of survivors, volunteers, and activists who can provide immediate social support to victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and bullying. The app provides needed restorative resources to begin the healing process.

Verena is a personal security system for marginalized communities, protecting users before, during, and after hate crimes, abuse, bullying, and more. It's built with privacy and security in mind. All messages are sent through our servers, leaving no trace on our user's phone. All of their important details are saved and encrypted locally on your device.

Brenda Strafford Centre serves people at risk of family violence by providing a safe housing environment and comprehensive support services for its residents so that they can live safely in the community upon their departure from the Centre. Purchase Good that Gives shirts to raise awareness and funding for their center.

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