Mental Health Consequences of Domestic Violence by Dr. David David

54% to 84% of battered women suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); 64% to 77% of battered women suffer from depression, and 38% to 75% of battered women suffer from anxiety.

Research has also shown that women who experience physical violence are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that victims of abuse suffer mental health issues. However, not only do victims have mental health issues but the physical health effects cannot be denied.

Domestic violence is real. It is a global problem, pathetic and sad but it is real. It has led to mass loss of lives and if more voices are not heard to cub the menace, more people will die. The most commonly employed element of domestic violence is coercive control. It is a pattern of domination enacted through tactics designed for intimidation and entrapment and has particularly damaging effects on mental health.

Coercive control strategies include physical battering, verbal abuse, social and physical isolation, shaming and belittlement, micromanagement of daily activities, and constant surveillance. These strategies aim to terrorize, hurt and overwhelm victims.

Practitioners are also seeing the use of digital coercive control, whereby perpetrators utilize technology to monitor and track their victims, creating a sense of omnipresence, isolation, and ostracism. Coercive control has significant implications for survivors’ mental health, through prolonged, repeated trauma that is both inescapable and unpredictable in nature.

Chronic and repeated trauma often manifests a more complex pattern of psychological symptoms compared with a single traumatic event. In addition to the defined symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), people with complex PTSD are more likely to experience dissociation; alterations in memory, identity, and personality; negative self-concept; disturbances in relationships, and impaired functioning.

Similarities in the pattern of psychological symptoms resulting from domestic violence are evident across cultures, with large-scale community surveys indicating that women who have experienced domestic violence are at higher risk of complex mental health difficulties and suicidal thoughts than women who had not experienced violence.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone—white, black, young, old, rich, poor, educated, not educated. Sometimes violence begins early on in a relationship and other times it takes months or even years to appear. But there generally are some warning signs.

Be wary of the following red flags an abuser may exhibit at any point in a relationship: Being jealous of your friends, Embarrassing or shaming you, Controlling all financial decisions, Making you feel guilty for all the problems in the relationship, Preventing you from working, Threatening violence against you, Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to and Intimidating you physically, especially with weapons.

These are the symptoms and if these symptoms persist, consult no doctor – ‘RUN’ Domestic violence is not a disease, it is someone’s way of life. Preventing violent behavior can often seem impossible. If you are leaving under the same roof, the first thing is to leave the house. Separate from the abuser. Seeking professional counseling which of course is important, may come later. Staying alive should be a personal decision for everyone.