Aftermath caused by Intimate Partner Violence - PTSD : By Ruchi Nair



In this article, a real life experience of a victim of domestic violence is shared. *Names have been changed (due to privacy concerns)* How after the incident she went through a mental condition called Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This article has descriptions on what the symptoms of PTSD are, and how intense these symptoms of this condition can become. It also has a brief idea on how to start the treatment of patients going through this trauma. There are many complications that arise while treating a trauma patient suffering from PTSD, some of which are discussed below. Any person suffering from PTSD also needs help from their family and friends, some measures that you can take if anyone close to you is suffering from this trauma are also discussed here. At the end of the article helpline numbers for people suffering from domestic violence are given.

“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.” by MAYO Clinic.


*Trigger Warning: This part contains use of multiple forms of trauma, including intergenerational trauma, sexual assault, and mental health.

Also note that this warning applies to any in-line link from this article*


This is a part of the conversation of the victim with Zahra Barnes (reporter): *The link to this interview blog is given below.*


"My friend would have to remind me to eat and help me go grocery shopping. The best way to describe it is that I was a ‘zombie’.", Sophia says in an interview. Sophia, 25, fled through a violent relationship in the winter of 2015. Her misery was supposed to be left in that place itself, but it continued to haunt the daylights out of her. All it would take is a small scent of a familiar cologne to drown in those haunting memories again. Right after she escaped her abuser, Sophia was “petrified” to be alone. A friend stayed with her in her apartment, and Sophia literally followed her from room to room. "I wasn’t able to take care of myself," Sophia says in an interview.


On a winter night in early 2015, Sophia's boyfriend raped her. The next night, he continued the abuse. He strangled her until she blacked out.... She managed to get away, grab her dog, and run to a friend’s house….


Sophia pressed charges, and her abuser was jailed for what he did to her. She got a job as a case manager in social work, and now pours her extracurricular efforts into domestic violence awareness. But the memories persist. “The weather is the biggest trigger for me, and I still have a hard time opening up to others. That winter was the snowiest I can remember, and watching the snowfall brings it all rushing back," she says. "The cooling of the air from summer to fall is also a trigger, especially here in Maine. It’s that feeling of walking outside, having all these bruises on my body, and then the cold air hits me."


She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), later in June 2016. Scared that her abuser would find her, Sophia was often too afraid to leave the house. If she heard even the slightest noise, her heart rate would skyrocket, a stress rash would creep across her cheeks, neck, and chest, and she would start to shake. "I was a wreck," she says.

After being experienced by Domestic Violence, developing PTSD is commonly observed in people.


“Violence against women is a significant social problem with research suggesting that as many as 22 to 29% of women report histories of intimate partner violence (IPV). Furthermore, IPV remains the leading cause of injuries to women with the costs of IPV exceeding $5.8 billion annually. Apart from PTSD victims also suffer from substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression.“, by National Center on PTSD.


Women are particularly susceptible to PTSD, which is sparked by “exposure to an event that involved or held the threat of death, violence, or serious injury,” according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the National Center on PTSD, due to women’s higher likelihood of experiencing trauma, including domestic violence, they have a 10 percent chance of developing the condition, while men’s odds stand at 4 percent.


Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - by MAYO Clinic


Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Symptoms of intrusive memories are that they give upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event, Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks), Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Avoidance symptoms include trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event and avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

Negative thoughts about themselves, other people, or the world, hopelessness about the future, difficulty in maintaining close relationships. They feel detached from family and friends for the most part. And most importantly they feel numb towards their own feelings. Their physical and emotional stability is also haggard a lot. They become easily frightened and are always on guard for danger. They sometimes develop self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast. They also have trouble sleeping and concentrating on specific tasks.


The Intensity of PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you're stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

Behaviors that indicate professional intervention is needed may include drinking or smoking more than usual as attempts to reduce anxiety or anger, and aggressive driving. Service members who have experienced combat can be especially nervous driving under overpasses and past litter on the roadside — behavior learned in Iraq and Afghanistan where insurgents hide improvised explosive devices in the garbage and use overpasses to shoot at vehicles. Other behaviors that indicate that help may be needed can include being wary of crowds, showing reluctance to go to movie theaters, crowded stores, or nightclubs, and avoiding news that addresses overseas combat, or getting angry at the reports.


Treatment of PTSD Symptoms - by WebMD, Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD


PTSD therapy has three main goals:


1. Improve your symptoms

2. Teach you skills to deal with it

3. Restore your self-esteem


Most PTSD therapies fall under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The idea is to change the thought patterns that are disturbing your life. This might happen through talking about your trauma or concentrating on where your fears come from.

Depending on your situation, group or family therapy might be a good choice for you instead of individual sessions.


Complications caused due to PTSD - by WebMD, Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD


Post-traumatic stress disorder can disrupt your whole life ― your job, your relationships, your health, and your enjoyment of everyday activities.

  • Having PTSD may also increase your risk of other mental health problems, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Issues with drugs or alcohol use

  • Eating disorders

  • Suicidal thoughts and actions


How to help someone with PTSD


It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from family and friends. They may feel ashamed, not want to burden others or believe that other people won’t understand what they’re going through. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, your comfort and support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.


Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isn’t always easy. You can’t force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.


Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they don’t. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.


Do “normal” things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved ones to seek out friends, pursue hobbies that bring them pleasure, and participate in rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, or rock climbing. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.


Let your loved one take the lead, rather than telling them what to do. Everyone with PTSD is different but most people instinctively know what makes them feel calm and safe. Take cues from your loved one as to how you can best provide support and companionship.


Be a good listener. While you shouldn’t push a person with PTSD to talk if they do choose to share, try to listen without expectations or judgments. Make it clear that you’re interested and that you care, but don’t worry about giving advice. It’s the act of listening attentively that is helpful to your loved one, not what you say.

A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on. Instead, offer to talk as many times as they need.

Some of the things your loved one tells you might be very hard to listen to. It’s okay to dislike what you hear, but it’s important to respect their feelings and reactions. If you come across as disapproving, horrified, or judgmental, they are unlikely to open up to you again.


If someone around you is experiencing PTSD because of domestic violence or because of any other causes - see resources

-National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 - America

-Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative (LC WRI) at (011) 24373993 or 24372923 - India

Australia Support Services - Call 000 if someone is in immediate risk of harm.

Safe Steps - https://safesteps.org.au/

NTV No to Violence - https://ntv.org.au/

DVRCV - Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

https://www.dvrcv.org.au/talk-someone/australia-wide-services

-1800RESPECT https://www.1800respect.org.au/

-inTouch https://intouch.org.au/

Reference Links

https://www.self.com/story/ptsd-domestic-violence

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-are-treatments-for-posttraumatic-stress-disorder

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/helping-someone-with-ptsd.htm

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