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Trauma Rehab Centers

Domestic Violence and PTSD

Domestic Violence and PTSDAn abusive relationship can take many forms and researchers are learning that some relationships that include physical, psychological or sexual abuse also lead to varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence happens to both men and women. When an intimate partner makes a person feel intimidated, scared or controlled, the relationship is abusive, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Intimate partner violence (IPV) may include any or all of the following characteristics, according to the VA:

  • Physical violence – hitting, pushing, grabbing, biting, choking, shaking or slapping
  • Sexual violence –  attempted or actual sexual contact without a partner’s consent
  • Threats of physical or sexual abuse – words, looks or gestures designed to control or frighten
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – humiliating, putting down, isolating or threatening
  • Stalking – following, harassing or forcing unwanted contact that makes a partner fearful

A partner who feels abused should seek help from supportive friends and family. A person who feels her life or her child’s life is in danger should make plans to leave safely.

Partner Violence and Psychological Symptoms

While living in an abusive relationship, a person may live in denial about the seriousness of the situation. A person may also begin exhibiting emotional or physical symptoms due to the stress of the relationship without even realizing the two are related. The following symptoms are common issues for someone in an abusive relationship, according to the VA:

  • Increased physical health problems – women in abusive relationships, for example, report 60% higher rates of health problems compared to women with no history of abuse
  • Mood problems – abuse can cause depression, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety or worry, feelings of  emotional numbness, problems with alcohol or drugs and suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Employment problems – people in abusive relationships are more likely to miss work

While it is difficult to accept than an intimate partner is abusive and dangerous, abused partners should seek help from a therapist or other supportive person in a safe way.

How Does PTSD Happen?

PTSD is commonly associated with war veterans or victims of child sexual abuse who have trouble returning to a normal life after the traumatic events. Therapists and researchers now associate the anxiety and depression experienced by some people in abusive relationships with PTSD as well.

The disorder seriously affects a person’s emotional state and includes symptoms like obsessive thoughts about the traumatic events and withdrawal from friends and family. The most common symptoms of PTSD are grouped in three main categories, according to the PTSD Alliance Resource Center. Major symptoms of the disorder include the following:

  • Re-living the event – this includes sudden feelings that the traumatic event is occurring again, along with emotional or physical reactions like panic
  • Avoiding memories of the event – individuals may go out of the way to separate from others, feel emotionally numb, or avoid anything associated with the trauma
  • Being hyper-vigilant – this includes symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and anger as well as feeling always on guard for danger

PTSD symptoms may continue to worsen if they go untreated. However, certain types of therapy and certain medications have been shown to effectively treat the disorder.

Need Help Finding Treatment for Domestic Violence and PTSD?

If you are looking for a program that offers counseling for domestic violence and PTSD, please call our toll-free helpline. We help individuals overcome anxiety disorders and PTSD with emotional and physical support that provides steps toward recovery. Call our admissions coordinators 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Do not hesitate to reach out for more information about your treatment options. Call us today.