There is a great deal of evidence showing a correlation between domestic violence and PTSD. Much of this evidence is related to PTSD resulting from serving in the military. While there are several cases of men and women who have suffered from domestic violence or abuse from a partner who has PTSD resulting from military service, persons with PTSD caused by any type of trauma are more likely to engage violent behavior and abuse than persons without PTSD.
In addition, PTSD is also a common effect of domestic violence. Men and women who have been the victim of domestic abuse or violence are at high-risk for developing PTSD because the experience can be considered a trauma. Any act that is so horrific and frightening for an individual can cause severe trauma, and domestic violence and abuse can certainly fall into this category.
Why Are Domestic Violence Rates High among People with PTSD?
It is estimated that over half of treatment-seeking veterans with PTSD have committed acts of domestic violence or family violence. The effects of trauma can appear instantly or over time, and for some individuals, a trauma can cause so much distress that the effects are impossible to deal with. When an individual experiences an event so horrific that their life is threatened, there will be several physical, psychological, and emotional consequences. These consequences can haunt an individual and take over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Many individuals who develop PTSD have done so because they have not utilized or they simply do not have the resources needed to cope with the traumatic experience. Individuals who do not talk about the issue, or do not have friends and family, support groups, or other helpful resources to address and overcome the trauma are more likely to develop PTSD because they have no outlet for their fear, stress, anger and other issues. This is especially true for soldiers and veterans who feel additional pressure to meet the ideal characteristics of a physically and mentally strong individual.
Pent up issues and feelings resulting from a trauma can lead to the development of PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are mind-altering and can impact how even the strongest, most loving individual can treat their spouse, partner, child, or family member.
How Domestic Violence Can Cause PTSD
Being the victim of domestic violence in any form can lead to the development of PTSD. Individuals who have been physically or psychologically abused have experienced a traumatic event. The thoughts, fears, and feelings they were victim of can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD.
Some of these PTSD symptoms are hyper-arousal or constantly feeling on-edge, having to avoid people, places, and things that remind one of the violent acts or the person committing these acts, and growing emotionally numb or isolating one’s self from others and social interaction. Being a victim of domestic violence can cause so much fear, stress, anger, worry, and confusion that an individual loses the ability to trust or even want to be in relationships with others. Being a victim of domestic violence, abuse, and any type of trauma can leave deep, lingering scars.