Gender Based Violence – The Challenge of Social Ownership


Domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence or Gender Based Violence. The weak and dependent members are repeatedly dis-empowered but tragically also add to the disempowerment amongst the victims of the primary perpetrators. Family violence creates a home environment where residents, adults and children live in constant fear. Despite the fact that one may not have been physically abused the effect of violence, the threat of violence and the witnessing of violence will affect all stakeholders especially children whose experience will be similar to those who to children who are physically abused.


Trauma, Abuse, Disability, Violence, GBV, Gender Based Violence, Older People, Elderly, Children, Community, Adverse Childhood Experiences, ACEs,


In Roibal, Heidi S., BS, IMH-E Domestic Violence Impact on Infants and Toddlers April, 2015, states that research in neuroscience (brain and nervous system) tells us that infants and toddlers are most vulnerable because trauma that occurs during this stage impacts a child’s entire system, including those systems that help infants build capacity for self-regulation. It is a common misperception that infants and toddlers are too young to remember or be impacted by domestic violence, but the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study tells us that what happens early in life matters. ACES’s impacts serious childhood traumas that result in toxic stress and can harm a child’s brain and may result in longterm health problems.


Various definitions of Gender Based violence exits and generally are quite similar. The author has chosen from Allcock, Annelies, 2018 the following quartets for different bodies.

COSLA and Scottish Women’s Aid (2016 ( f i l e s /              d o c u m e n t s /

good_practice_in_commissioning_specialist_domestic_abuse_services.pdf) ) describe domestic violence and abuse as:

[Pe]rsistent and controlling behaviour by a partner or ex-partner which causes

physical, sexual and/or emotional harm. It is common but often concealed. In most cases, it is experienced by women and children and is perpetrated by men.

Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (2017 (http:// ) define domestic abuse as:

[A]ny form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere including online.

This definition also acknowledges that domestic abuse as a form of gender based violence is predominately perpetrated by men against women and also includes abuse of male victims by female perpetrators and includes abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people within relationships (Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 2017 (http:// ).

Older women

This demography suffers from lack of statistical reattach and data collection. The exact prevalence rates of violence and abuse against older women are hard to estimate because of varied definitions of abuse as well as old age Data from the Domestic Homicide Review (2016 (https:// government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575232/HO- Domestic-Homicide-Review-Analysis-161206.pdf) ) for England and Wales show that an increasing number of people aged 60+ are victims of domestic homicide; 8% of the women killed by a partner or ex-partner in 2016 were aged 66 or over. The experience of domestic abuse amongst older people varies; for some they will have experienced abuse at the hands of their partner for many years, while for others, the abuse may be a characteristic of a new relationship started in later life (Welsh Government 2017 ( safeguarding-older-people- en.pdf) ).

Older women suffer from these manners of abuses:

  • Be vulnerable and have less ability to defend themselves from physical attack and verbal assaults
  • Be neglected and denied food and water if they are immobile
  • Have continence needs which can be used as a vehicle for abuse

During the Covid-19 Pandemic isolation caused by Lockdown initiatives by governments around the world brought to the fore gender based violence cases. Traditionally it was more likely that older women be abused than younger women due to the living arrangement with abusers. The abuser may be having extramarital affairs, travel due to work commitment and other reasons thus reducing close proximity in relational interplay. Older women are more likely to be living with  their abusers than younger women (Centre for Research on Families and Relationships 2008 (https:// 1842/2771/rb%2039.pdf?sequence=1) ) and be spending more time with their abusers following retirement from work (Solace Women’s Aid 2016 (https:// Feb-16.pdf) ).


Gender Based violence is suffered by different ages, in varied relationships and economic position. The barriers to seeking help however are quite common, victims of abuse may have internal feelings of hopelessness and concern for the abuser, or externally, for example, lack of services specifically designed for victims’ needs especially the elderly(United Nations 2013 ( 10.12908/SEEJPH-2014-03) ).

  • It is important to note that in Africa cultural, religious and institutional players have limited structure to asset the visit of abuse regardless of the sex of the victims. Social acceptance of abuse increases the trauma and likelihood of domestic fatalities through prolonged abuse.
  • The tendencies of removing the victim from the abusers has limited women’s willingness to stand up as caregivers to risk harm on their children and elderly in need of their care and protection.
  • In African countries domestic abuse is usually encouraged to seek home grown remedies and reconciliation, following a fine to the abusers while limited support financially and institutionally.

This abuse my be triggered by either sex, though violent abusive action is generally found in male versus female. Female versus male has recorded manipulation, harassment through direct and various media.

Gender values and Culture 

In Zimbabwe Jenni Williams a human rights activist and founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise. was a predominate critic of president Robert Mugabe’s regime, The Guardian described her in 2009 as “one of the most troublesome thorns in. Mugabe’s side.” She said however to view the current President Mnangagwa as a “listening President”.  Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) is one of the active civl society organisations in protesting government abuses in Zimbabwe. The organisation was formed in 2003 to provide women’s of wall walks of life, with a united voice to speak out on issues.affecting their day-to-day lives.

Women in Zimbabwe have in the past ten years become more socially active in issues of interest, through the increased politicisation of the Christian community attacked changes in the Ducation systems that sought to increase speculated, the activists fought against attempt by the legal system to register partnerships and cohabitations seeking to make them equal to traditional and orthodox marriages. the Christian women’s movement have also been central in stopping attempts to register homosexual marriages despite all cultural and social views.

In the case of Zimbabwe highlights the importance of understanding diversity management and its application in culture so as not to block all diversity programs.


Roibal, Heidi S., BS, 2018 explains every child is impacted by domestic violence, no matter how young. One of the most harmful aspects of domestic violence for very young children is the loss of their primary caregiver, usually the mother, as an attachment figure. Many times, a baby’s primary caregiver is unable physically or emotionally to help the baby manage his/her stress reactions to a domestic violence event because of the overwhelming stress that the parent experiences.

GBV Enablers

Attitudes and Beliefs

The attitudes and beliefs of older women may be a barrier to seeking help. Some of these attitudes might include:

  • A lack of faith in authorities (Carthy and Taylor 2018 (

10.1177/1477370817749484) ) Social expectations around marriage

(Brossoie and Roberto 2015 (

10.1080/08946566.2015.1095664) )

A degree of acceptance surrounding domestic abuse (Solace Women’s Aid 2016


Project-Evaluation-Report-2013-16- Feb-16.pdf) )

Many of these attitudes are described as being exacerbated for older BAME women, particularly those from a religious background who may face additional personal and familial pressures to stay with an abusive partner (Safelives 2016 (

S    a    f    e    %    2    0    L    a    t    e    r    %    2    0    L    i    v    e    s    %    2    0       –

%20Older%20people%20and%20domestic%20abuse.pdf) ). In  rural  areas, there might be additional values and expectations preventing women from seeking help, such as the value of self-sufficiency and distrust of state intervention and outsiders offering help (Brossoie and Roberto 2015 (http:// ).


Financial dependence may increase venerability to GBV

  • Women especially older women may have no formal education, no experience of work outside the home or independent economic resources
  • Women may have savings/capital/pensions which makes them ineligible for access to social housing, benefits, legal aid and community care grants
  • Carthy and Holt (2016 ( ) also state that women may have fewer future opportunities for education or learning new skills, which can add to feelings of financial vulnerability.

However even with financial independence victims may still suffer Vitimisation through the following:

  • Victim may feel guilty about leaving a now frail, albeit abusive, partner who may rely on them for care and support with everyday living (Knight and Hester 2016 ( 10.1080/09540261.2016.1215294) ).
  • In some instances, a victim may be subjected to abuse by her partner as a result of the partner’s age-related mental or physical illness (Yechezkel and Ayalon 2013 ( s10896-013-9506-0) ).
  • The perceived vulnerability of the perpetrator may make it harder for professionals to identify domestic abuse (Safelives 2016 (http:// s a f e l i v e s . o r g . u k / s i t e s / d e f a u l t / f i l e s / r e s o u r c e s / S a f e % 2 0 L a t e r % 2 0 L i v e s % 2 0 – %20Older%20people%20and%20domestic%20abuse.pdf) ).

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In fact, 10 million people experience domestic abuse annually in the United States alone. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner (Germano, Maggie, Domestic Violence Has A Financial Impact Too, 2019 Forbes women). GBV encompasses a range of behaviours, including but not limited to:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Reproductive coercion
  • Digital abuse
  • Financial abuse

The financial costs include (Germano, Maggie, Domestic Violence Has A

Financial Impact Too, 2019 Forbes women):

Medical Costs : According to the United Stated’s CDC, one in five women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical violence from a partner. This experiences may end up sending victims to the doctor or to the hospital.

Disrupted Education: Two-thirds of the IWPR survey respondents said that their partner’s behaviour negatively affected their educational and job training opportunities. Education is a huge contributing factor to whether or not women are able to get higher paying jobs that allow them to support themselves.

Disrupted Ability to Work: Eighty-three percent of victims experience that their abusive partners disrupted their ability to work. Of these, 70 percent were not able to have a job, and 53 percent lost a job because of the abuse. This tactic is a form of financial abuse, as abusers are preventing their victims from working and earning their own money.

Workplace Sexual Harassment on Top of Partner Abuse: Many (39 percent) domestic violence survivors had also experienced sexual harassment or violence at work from a co-worker or supervisor. This kind of harassment and abuse can cause victims to either lose their jobs or force them to leave their jobs, putting them at financial risk.

Financial Abuse and Damage to Credit: In fact, up to 99 percent of abusive relationships also involve some kind of financial abuse. According to the IWPR survey, about three in four respondents (73 percent) had abusers take money from them against their will, such as their pay- check, savings, or public benefits.

Reproductive Coercion: Reproductive coercion is when an abuser tries to control over the reproductive health of a woman, which can mean sabotaging their birth control or forcing them to terminate a pregnancy. In this survey, IWPR found that reproductive coercion is much more common than previously believed. In fact, four in ten (40 percent) survivors said they had a partner who tried to get them pregnant against their will or stopped them from using birth control.

The statistical impact of GBV in Africa has as minimum correlating data, and the impact of the financial strain on nations has no valid data. Increased research on this area may add value to political and corporate action in the future.


The Christian community has been attacked by number of organisation for refusing to address Gender based violence in its community, but potentially enabling abuse especially of women by increasing subjugation of the visit through institutional legalities of submission.

  • Cultural structures focused on painting moral stagnation as part of normalcy  are viewed of suffering and pain.
  • Cultural support is depended on the discretion of the community and families habits and world views. While culture has the capacity legally and morally to stop GBV its rarely implemented.
  • The role of mediators such as aunts, uncles and elders in Bantu tribal culture found in southern Africa , is to ensure the protection of the weak ie women and children.
  • The demand for the victim to be more understanding, more submissive more willing to give is an attempt to use the easy way.
  • For the abuse of the Victim is society taking the easy way out and refusing to address the internal dysfunction and failures that culture represents.

The members of our community who have a disability are general disadvantaged through institutional limitations and social bias. The suffering of the disabled victims of GBV is worsened by their dependence on the abusers.

  • People with disabilities, children and older people are more prone to suffer from health problems, reduced mobility or other disabilities, which can exacerbate their vulnerability to harm (Safelives 2016 ( http:// safelives. org. uk/ s i tes/ default/ f i les/ resources/ Safe% 20 Later% 20 Lives% 20 -%20Older%20people%20and%20domestic%20abuse.pdf) ).
  • Perpetrators may deliberately emphasise and reinforce dependency as a way of asserting and maintaining control (Welsh Government 2017 (http:// wales/docs/dsjlg/publications/commsafety/ 170622-safeguarding-olderpeople-en.pdf) ).
  • Lack of special technical provision and financial independence leads verism to remain in areas of suffering
  • Women or men who are cared for may be coerced and controlled by carers may have more difficulties in recognising their experience as abuse due to their dependence.

The failure by non-governmental institutions, government and society to unify their address on the issue of Gender Based Violence.  The private sector has also not addressed the issue of protecting  its work force who may be victim of abuse.

  • The failure of corporate’s to address Gender Based Violence in the work place while labeling it a private’s matter, is an error as much as failing to address victimisation of employees through other abuses.
  • Most occupational abuses are impacted through diversity management, question of mental health and trauma must also have a place as they impact institutions and human resource potential of organisations.
  • Mental health challenges to the general community are impacted by GBV through increased mental health challenges, trauma, Post Traumatic syndrome following the experience of fatality.
  • Its’ foolish for any stockholder to view GBV as minor issue, distant issue and be detached or perceived afar will not hinder proceed violence in affecting occupational development.
Legal status

In cases when an individual is a migrant with their documents in questionable legal standings, victims may suffer due to their resident status. A crisis of legal standing increases the power of the predator in the cases when illegal migrants live in abusive relationships. When the migrant are in a dependent relationships and the predator is their source of legal authority to live, work or entering into the country the situation may be worsened. Thus special support may be required for migrant victims in crisis situations.


The expression and discussion of Gender Based Violence and its impact is key to national and communal relations and development. Domestic violence as stated in this paper is broadly defined as a form of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse of another person. Regardless of one’s race, gender, or economic status, domestic violence between partners, parents, children or across the grouping. Key to stopping domestic violence is education, discussion through the media of holistic and victim sensitive responses (Peace Colleen, The Impact of Domestic Violence on Society, West Texas A&M University). Response through education will reduce the impact this social issue has on victims, their families, friends, co-workers and health care providers.

Gender Based Violence Impacts

Dynamics of domestic violence are unhealthy for children and older victims as they experience emotional dysfunctional behaviours:

  • Control of family by one dominant member.
  • Abuse of a parent.
  • Isolation
  • Protecting the “family secret”.

According to Roibal, Heidi S., BS, 2015 Children react to their environment in different ways, and reactions can vary depending on the child’s gender and age.

TABLE 1 lists reaction to GBV  in different ways and groups

Manner/ age Reaction to abuses
Emotional: Grief for family and personal losses. Shame, guilt and self blame Anger

Confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents.

Fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury. Depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.



Infants: Basic need for attachment is disrupted. Routines around feeing/sleeping are disturbed.

Injuries while “caught in the crossfire. Irritability or inconsolable crying. Frequent illness.

Difficulty sleeping

Diarrhoea Developmental delays Lack of responsiveness



Acting out or withdrawing. Aggressive or passive Refusing to go to school.

Care taking; acting as a parent substitute. Lying to avoid confrontation

Rigid defences

Excessive attention seeking. Bedwetting and nightmares. Out of control behaviour.

Reduced intellectual competency. Manipulation, dependency, mood swings.

Preschool: Somatic or psychosomatic complaints.



Poor concentration

Aggression, hyperactivity, disobedience Disturbed sleep, nightmares Withdrawal, low self-esteem Showing no emotion (‘spaced out’) Always on edge, wary

Fantasise about normal home life Pessimism about the future Physical symptoms

Youth Depression Anxiety Withdrawal Abuse of parents Take on a caretaker role prematurely, trying to protect their mother Poorly developed communication skills

Parent-child conflict

Enter marriage or a relationship early to escape the family home Embarrassed about family Shame

Poor self-image Eating disorders

Low academic achievement Dropping out from school Low self-esteem

Staying away from home Leaving home early Running away from home Feeling isolated from others Violent outbursts

Participating in dangerous risk-taking behaviours to impress peers Alcohol and substance abuse

Difficulty communicating feelings


Experiencing violence in their own dating relationships

Physical injuries when they try to intervene to

protect mother Suicide

Social: Isolation form friends and relatives. Stormy relationships. Difficulty in trusting, especially adults.

Poor anger management and problem solving skills. Excessive social involvement to avoid home. Passivity with peers or bullying. Engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim.

Physical: Somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches.

Nervous, anxious, short attention span.

Tired and lethargic Frequently ill Poor personal hygiene. Regression in development. High risk play. Self abuse.

Impact on children will vary according to Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc. ( people.php) based on

  • The length of time the child was exposed to the domestic violence;
  • The age of the child when the exposure began;
  • Whether the child has also experienced child abuse with the domestic violence;
  • The presence of additional stressors such as poverty, community violence, parental substance abuse or mental illness and disruptions in family life;
  • Whether the child has a secure attachment to a non-abusing parent or other significant adult;
  • Whether the child has a supportive social network;
  • Whether the child has strong cultural identity and ethnic pride;
  • The child’s own positive coping skills and experience of success;
  • Family access to health, education, housing, social services and employment.

Often the behavioural and emotional impacts of domestic and family violence will improve when children and their mothers are safe, the violence is no longer occurring and they receive support and specialist counselling.

Apart from the emotional, physical, social and behavioural damage abuse creates for children, statistics show that domestic violence can also become a learned behaviour. This means that children may grow up to think it is okay to use violence to get what they want and as adults that it is okay for there to be violence in their relationships.

Culture of GBV

Dina J. Wilke and Linda Vinton, state that marital violence generally declines with age groups, this may be also attributed to decline in health, financial status and mobility. The culture of Domestic violence is a global problem of enormous proportions. Although men are sometimes victims, the vast majority are women. But it is important to be balanced in conversation over GBV for a total social buy-in is required to stop Gender Based Violence.

There is a common link between domestic violence and child abuse. Among victims of child abuse, 40 per cent report domestic violence in the home. One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually violence of all kinds, adults who grew up with violence in the home are actively opposed to any violence of any kind. There is reason to believe exposure to GBV may affect children that during toilet training and language development. This link has been confirmed around the world, with supporting studies from a range of countries including China, South Africa, Colombia, India, Egypt, the Philippines, and Mexico ( The social reality of national Trauma increases in Africa especially during civil crisis, post war, election violence and economic crisis. These relate to increases in mental health issues and emotional crisis. Failure to address social health, reconciliation on communal conflicts and panic will results.


The future of nations post Covid-19 is impacted by the manner of addressing the Pandemic, the economic fall out, the mental health challenges, new work culture and their response in addressing the scrounge of Gender Based Violence. The reality is that isolation through Lockdown increased visibility of the social trauma communities and families had been suffering in private. The impact of this trauma had already been at hand.

The issue of Gender Based Violence is not only a matter of domestics affairs, and can not be related to an individual’s secrete life. Gender Based Violence, Domestic and Inter Relational Violence must be viewed with the lenses that this reality impacts the financial, social, political and psychological standing of nations. The refusal to address this cancer will have longterm consequences, on all levels of the communal structures. Gender based violence is not limited to any set demography and its impact on the next generation, the culture and leadership must propel us to increase discussions, reach, support and penalty both legally and morally against predators regardless of their sex.


Roibal, Heidi S., BS, IMH-E Domestic Violence Impact on Infants and Toddlers April, 2015,

Allcock, Annelies Older women and domestic abuse ESSS Outline (/authors/ annelies-allcock), 13 Aug 2018 Resources and Core Advocacy Training

Maggie Germano, Domestic Violence Has A Financial Impact Too, 2019 Forbes women


(2017 ( )

(Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 2017 (http:// keep_safe/175573?view=Standard) ).

(2016 ( system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/575232/HO- Domestic-Homicide-Review-Analysis-161206.pdf) )

( safeguarding-older-people- en.pdf)

(Centre for Research on Families and Relationships 2008 (https:// bitstream/handle/1842/2771/rb%2039.pdf? sequence=1)

(Solace Women’s Aid 2016 ( default/files/2018-05/ Solace-Silver-Project-EvaluationReport-2013-16-Feb-16.pdf) ).

( C a r t h y a n d Ta y l o r 2 0 1 8 ( h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g /

10.1177/1477370817749484) ) (Brossoie and Roberto 2015



(Brossoie and Roberto 2015 ( ). Carthy and Holt (2016 (http:// 16.

( h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g /10.1080/09540261.2016.1215294)

(Yechezkel and Ayalon 2013 ( ).

(Safelives 2016 ( S a f e % 2 0 L a t e r % 2 0 L i v e s % 2 0 –


(Safelives 2016 ( S a f e % 2 0 L a t e r % 2 0 L i v e s % 2 0 –

%20Older%20people%20and%20domestic%20abuse.pdf) ).

(Welsh Government 2017 ( commsafety/170622- safeguarding-older-people-en.pdf) ).

(Peace Colleen, The Impact of Domestic Violence on Society, West Texas A&M University).

Dina J. Wilke and Linda Vinton, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND AGING: TEACHING ABOUT THEIR INTERSECTION, Journal of Social Work Education ,Vol. 39, No. 2 (SPRING/SUMMER

2003), pp. 225-235 people.php Jenny Williams Zimbabwe women forum

Leave a comment