Domestic Violence and PTSD

PTSD Definition

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Domestic Abuse Definition

An important piece in understanding the dynamics of domestic violence is the definition of abuse. Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another. When one defines domestic violence in terms of physical abuse only they do not fully understand the dynamics that keep these relationships together.
  • Abuse
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Sexual


So now that I have shared the definitions of PTSD and Domestic Abuse, you will see that they go hand in had together. I know this because I’m not only a Domestic Violence survivor, but I also suffer from PTSD. We usually relate PTSD with our Soldiers that served over seas. However, it’s also very common for anyone who has experienced any type of trauma to suffer from this disorder, as well. My biggest symptom was having flash backs and bad dreams. That’s what tipped me off to getting help. Below are the most common symptoms of PTSD.Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Recurrent memories of the tragic event.
  • Reliving the event as it was happening again. Also, known as flashbacks.
  • Upsetting dreams about the trauma.
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event.
  • Avoidance
  • Negative cahnges in thinking and mood.
  • Feeling numb. (Also, a big symptom of mine.)
  • Intensity of feelings

Domestic Abuse and PTSD

Now, that we know the symptoms of PTSD and who it can affect. We will take a closer look at Domestic Abuse and PTSD.
  • One in every four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives
  • Every year, about 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their partners
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women and 15% are men
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police
  • It is estimated that somewhere between 30 to 60% of abusers also abuse children in the household
  • with women who have been absued (10.4%) twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD.
  • About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. This represents a small portion of those who have experienced at least one traumatic event; 60.7% of men and 51.2% of women reported at least one traumatic event.
  • The most traumatic events for women are rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, and childhood physical abuse.

How to Get Better

Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can help you regain a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but often includes medication. Combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms, teach you skills to address your symptoms, help you feel better about yourself and learn ways to cope if any symptoms arise again. The following are good treatment plans.
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Exposure Therapy
  • EDMR Therapy
  • You may try individual therapy, group therapy or both. Group therapy can offer a way to connect with others going through similar experiences.
  • Medications will likely be a part of your treatment. Doctors prescribe a wide array of AntiDepressants. My doctor prescribed Effecor and it worked well.
I can say personally from experience all of the options are the way to go. A must have is finding a great Therapist who has had a background in Trauma. Also, a group is a great way to identify with other women who are going through what you’re going through and you feel safe. Like, I said you may choose a few of these options or just one. If the Doctor recommends taking medication. Please, don’t feel ashamed to start one. Mine has helped my PTSD symptoms tremendously!

Resources and References

Suicide Hotline
Phone: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Freedom from Fear (FFF)
Phone: (718) 351-1717
Gift from Within (GFW)
Phone: (207) 236-8858
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has developed tools to screen patients for intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Asian Task Force Against Domestic ViolenceATASK primarily serves Asian families and individuals in Massachusetts and New England who suffer from or are at risk of suffering from domestic violence.
Battered Women’s Justice ProjectBWJP offers training, technical assistance and consultation on the most promising practices of the criminal and civil justice systems in addressing domestic violence.
Break the CycleBTC provides tools and resources to prevent and end dating abuse. They’ve partnered with the hotline to create loveisrespect.