Devastating Effects of Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.[1]

-United States Department of Justice

domestic violenceDomestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.1 It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.1 One in four women have experienced domestic violence by a spouse or a boyfriend.[2] Seven million children live in families where severe partner violence occurs.2 The effects of such are devastating and take a severe toll on the victim’s mental and physical health.2 Every day, three women are killed at the hands of their abuser.1

Those who are victims of domestic violence experience emotional trauma that leads to mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder.[3] They may have trouble sleeping, eating, and live in constant fear.3 Many turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain.3 The constant abuse can trigger suicide attempts and psychotic episodes.3

Sadly, domestic violence is more common among adults who are already diagnosed with a mental health disorder.[4] The abuser, often extremely manipulative, plays upon their current depressive emotions, including hopelessness, feeling a lack of self-worth, and low confidence levels.4 Abusers know how to manipulate the depressed mind easily, believing the chance of the partner leaving them is slim.4

However, having a mental health disorder and ending up in a violent relationship is never the victim’s fault. Oftentimes, the abuser slowly isolates, intimidates, and controls their partner.3 At first, it is very difficult to recognize.3 In fact, early in the relationship, the partner seems attentive, generous, and protective—what many look for in a relationship.3 The future seems to be filled with roses. As time goes on, the abuser slowly becomes frightening and controlling.3 The initial abusive incidents are isolated and the abuser often expresses remorse, promising to never do it again, rationalizing their behavior and blaming it on stress or something the victim did or didn’t do.3 It’s never a truly rational excuse—no one deserves to be abused.3

Compared to women without mental health problems, those with depressive disorders were twice as likely to have experienced domestic violence within their lifetime, and women with anxiety disorders were three times as likely.2 Women with post-traumatic stress disorder were seven times more likely.2 Men with all types of mental disorders were also at an increased risk of domestic violence.2 Twenty-seven percent of women and 17 percent of men have experienced domestic violence during their lifetime; however women experience more repeated and severe violence compared with men.2

Evidence suggests two things: domestic violence can lead victims to develop mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.2 Mental health professionals should be aware of this link to ensure their patients are safe from domestic violence and treated effectively from the mental health impact of the abuse.2

[1] Domestic Violence. (2013, March 1). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm

[2] Get Involved – Get the Facts. (n.d.). Futures Without Violence. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from info.futureswithoutviolence.org/fact-sheets-domestic-violence/?gclid=COqy8vy5qroCFUGd4Aod038AIA

[3] Domestic Violence. (n.d.). American Psychaitric Association. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http://www.psychiatry.org/domestic-violence

[4] Collins, S. (2013, January 4). Mental illness linked to domestic violence. Futurity. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http://www.futurity.org/mental-illness-linked-to-domestic-violence/


  • Denice

    October 27, 2013, 3:11 pm

    Hi to everyone! I am really enjoying reading this weblog’s posts. It consists of good material.

  • Laurie

    October 29, 2013, 3:52 am

    This is a topic which is near and dear to my heart. Thank you.

  • Susie

    December 28, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this article.
    It was helpful. Keep on posting!

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