PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by exposure to trauma. While trauma is a subjective term, some common experiences that can lead to PTSD include:
- Being the victim of a crime
- Domestic violence and other abuse
- Military combat experience
- Surviving a flood, fire or other disaster.
The relationship between PTSD and domestic violence is complicated. Because of the emotional and physical trauma they experience, it is not unusual for victims of domestic violence to go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, some people who suffer from PTSD may become violent or abusive to their partners.
Effects of Domestic Violence: PTSD
Domestic abuse is one of the many possible causes of PTSD. Here are some statistics:
- A study published in the Journal of Family Violence (2000)found that of 100 women who had experienced domestic violence, 45 met the criteria for PTSD.
- According to a research conducted by Vitanza, Vogel and Marshall (1995), 56 percent of women in abusive relationships studied met the criteria for PTSD.
Domestic Abuse and PTSD Sufferers
Symptoms of PTSD may sometimes include aggressive responses such as:
Because of these symptoms, domestic violence can also be one of the effects of PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD (2007), families of veterans with PTSD experience more physical violence and physical and verbal aggression than families of veterans who don’t have the condition.
Studies of Vietnam veterans illustrate the toll that PTSD can take on relationships. According to the National Center for PTSD (2007):
- Forty-two percent of Vietnam veterans studied were physically aggressive to their partners in the past year.
- Ninety-two percent of these veterans were verbally aggressive to their partners in the previous year.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
The signs of domestic violence are not always obvious, and this type of abuse may take many forms, including:
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Physical violence
- Sexual violence
- Stalking behavior
Here are some red flags to help you recognize domestic abuse in your relationship.
- Your partner assaults you or your children physically or sexually.
- Your partner blames you for the abuse.
- Your partner controls all the family finances, or your work and school activities.
- Your partner has outbursts such as breaking objects or punching walls.
- Your partner isolates you from family and friends.
- Your partner questions you about everything you do and everyone you see.
- Your partner threatens to hurt you or someone you love, to ruin your reputation or take away your children.
PTSD treatment may involve therapy and/or medication, and your entire family may benefit from support groups or counseling. If you or your children are in immediate physical danger, however, getting to a safe place is vital until your partner receives the help he or she needs.
For help during a domestic violence crisis, you may want to contact:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.
Aardvarc.org. (2008). Long-term effects of domestic violence. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from: http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/effects.shtml.
BNET, CBS Business Network. (2010). Domestic violence in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder who seek couples therapy. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3658/is_200610/ai_n17190543/.