Domestic violence and mental health. Domestic violence or family violence is abuse in a domestic setting, such as marriage or cohabitation. It is generally violence caused by an intimate partner, typically a spouse. Domestic abuse involves violence against children, spouses, parents, or the elderly. It has several forms like physical, verbal, emotional, economic, sexual abuse, etc. Domestic violence and mental illness go hand-in-hand.
Effects of domestic violence on the victim
Mental health and domestic abuse impact the victim in several forms. He/she can undergo a lot of pain and could change their behavior very drastically. Domestic violence has the following negative impacts on the victim:
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
- Physical injuries and health problems.
- Emotional and psychological trauma.
- Illness, death, disability, and injury.
- Eating and sleeping disturbances.
- Fear and guilt.
Strategies to cope up with domestic violence
Most of the victims who were subjected to domestic violence were those who were involved in long-time relationships. Leaving such relationships can be particularly dangerous for women and children as the partners lose control that they previously had and could fight back. On the other hand, staying could be dangerous as the risk of more abuse is likely to escalate as the offender feels like they could get away with it. The strategies the victims used to cope up with the abuse include:
- Acceptance: Many believed that this is all extremely normal in a relationship and is a part of life. This was their initial attitude. The pressure of wanting the relationship to work made them blind to the abuse. Some may have even grown up in this kind of environment. Hence, found it hard to believe otherwise.
- Denial: This is a very common strategy amongst the victims. They hide their partner's abusive behavior from the outside world. This makes it hard for anyone to offer their help. The victims struggle with this all by themselves. They live in the fear that if their partner found out, it would get worse.
- Self-blame: Many victims blame themselves for their partner's abusive behavior. They believe that if they were better people, they would not be subjected to such actions. They try changing and adapting to the needs of their partners.
- Alcohol and Drugs: This is another commonly used strategy to cope up. These drugs and alcohol help them evade reality. They use these to forget all the horrific incidents they have been through. The victims find temporary relief from drugs and alcohol.
- Getting help on the down-low: Some victims seek professional help without letting their partners know. They do this in secret as they fear what their partners would do if they found out. These treatments shine the light on the reality of the situation and help them understand that they have to remove themselves from such an environment. These treatments help them get clarity and also improve their mental health.
Mental health issues due to domestic violence
The mental health of the victim is drastically reduced due to domestic violence. This can make an abusive situation worse. Some experience long-term health issues which require proper care and recovery. They live in fear and continue to struggle throughout their life. Domestic violence and mental health are essential aspects of the victims. The mental issues they face include:
- Depression and anxiety: Even after coming out of such abusive relationships, these women experience panic attacks. This has made it very hard for them to trust other people. The result of violent crimes makes them depressed and anxious. They live in constant fear. They find it hard to socialize and mingle with other people too.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Most people who have been involved with domestic violence often experience PTSD. They continuously suffer from memories of the past resurfacing over and over again. They require professional medical help to overcome this trauma. Suffering from PTSD can be a struggle, but with the right care, it can be treated.
- Nightmares and flashbacks: This is another symptom of PTSD. Constantly reliving these traumas while asleep or even by just looking at some reminders can act as a trigger. It is seen that many victims can describe aspects of their night terrors that affect their mental health significantly. This can happen for years, even after they are out of that abusive relationship.
- Panic attacks: Some victims are constantly on edge. This is once again due to the harsh environment they once lived in. These victims find it extremely hard to relax and calm down. The smallest trigger can cause them to have a panic attack and hyperventilate. These people need warm love, affection, and constant care.
- Self-harming: This is another negative impact on the victim. Many victims are known to harm themselves when they feel low or depressed. Some have even tried to take their own lives. This is their way of escaping from reality. Some even say that they were encouraged by their abusive partners to kill themselves.
- Not feeling like oneself: It is seen that many victims do not feel like their old selves after the trauma. They feel like they have lost their selves and do not have the will to live anymore. Seeking professional medical help would be the perfect solution for such victims. The impact that the trauma had on them would be severe in such cases. The victims have seen the most painful and traumatic parts of life. They suffer from mental issues. Getting proper help and being surrounded by their loved ones would help them get better. Domestic violence and mental health issues need to be addressed individually and together.