Domestic Violence and PTSD

Domestic Violence is much bigger than the event of violence that occurs upon it’s victim.  Domestic Violence many times is a family secret that each family member is afraid to share with those outside the home.  Without exception wherever Domestic Violence exists, there will also be found Post Traumatic Stress in the lives of the family being exposed to the violence.  According to the National Center of Trauma,  trauma may occur from at least four different sources: War, Terrorism, Natural Disasters, and Domestic Violence and Abuse.  One primary reason is the fear of greater violence that will take place as a result within the home to the individual who told the family secret and also upon other family members as well.  The Post Traumatic long term impact upon the home becomes even more devastating upon the “secret” within the family when everyone makes a silent alliance to appease the abuser in the home.  Studies show time and time again that appeasing an abuser within a family will lead to greater abuse and an even higher level of stress within the family system.  Domestic Violence has no boundaries of race, religion, social standings or even political preference.  Domestic abusers are able to create a state of anxiety by the manner in which they attempt to intimidate their spouse and children within a home environment.  When spouses and children live in a trauma environment they actually show signs that frequently go unnoticed by other family members and friends.  According to a study by Crowell in 1996, the most frequently summary diagnosis for females who are victims of domestic violence is PTSD.  Crowell also concluded that the manner in which families are treated for PTSD wasn’t in line with how  men and women who suffers from PTSD in the military are treated.  Domestic Violence victims in families are many times told to stay with the abuser and be thankful for having a home with a man in it, or to pray with the violent person, or to talk more with the abuser, or make a greater effort to satisfy the abusers needs.  Such advice although coming from well intended individuals will actually make the in home violence worse as well as adding even greater PTSD to the spouse and children within the home environment.

The following article was published by The Center for Disease Control about the long term impact of trauma upon individuals, their families and society.

Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences

Cost to Society

  • Costs of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women alone in 1995 exceeded an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs included nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity (CDC 2003). This is generally considered an underestimate because the costs associated with the criminal justice system were not included.
  • When updated to 2003 dollars, IPV costs exceeded $8.3 billion, which included $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking, and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives (Max et al. 2004).
  • The increased annual health care costs for victims of IPV can persist as much as 15 years after the cessation of abuse (Rivara et al., 2007).
  • Victims of severe IPV lose nearly 8 million days of paid work-the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs-and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity each year (CDC 2003).
  • Women who experience severe aggression by men (e.g., not being allowed to go to work or school, or having their lives or their children’s lives threatened) are more likely to have been unemployed in the past, have health problems, and be receiving public assistance (Lloyd and Taluc 1999).


Approximately, 29% of women and 10% of men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one measured impact related to these or other forms of violence in that relationship (Black et al., 2011). In general, victims of repeated violence over time experience more serious consequences than victims of one-time incidents (Johnson and Leone, 2005). The following list describes some, but not all, of the consequences of IPV.


1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2011).

Apart from deaths and injuries, physical violence by an intimate partner is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes (Black, 2011; Breiding, Black, and Ryan, 2008). Several health conditions associated with intimate partner violence may be a direct result of the physical violence (for example, bruises, knife wounds, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, back or pelvic pain, headaches). Other conditions are the result of the impact of intimate partner violence on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress or other mechanisms (Black, 2011; Crofford, 2007; Leserman and Drossman, 2007).

Examples of health conditions associated with IPV include:

  • Asthma
  • Bladder/kidney infections
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Joint disease
  • Migraines/headaches

Children may become injured during IPV incidents between their parents. A large overlap exists between IPV and child maltreatment (Appel and Holden 1998).

How have you been impacted by Domestic Violence and what are you doing to get out of it?


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