What Is the Connection between PTSD and Domestic Violence?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) can have both direct and indirect connections to domestic violence. PTSD and domestic violence are often related because people who have been victims of domestic violence may experience PTSD as a result. They also are connected because people who have been diagnosed with PTSD may be more prone to committing domestic violence. Families that experience domestic violence often have issues with PTSD, as well.

One connection between PTSD and domestic violence is that people who have experienced domestic violence may develop PTSD. In cases of domestic violence, the abuse typically comes from one member of an intimate relationship, such as a marriage or cohabitation, toward the other member of the relationship, although sometimes both partners may be violent toward one another. A person may have witnessed domestic violence as a child and developed PTSD as a result, or he or she may develop PTSD after being victimized by a spouse or partner as an adult. Either way, PTSD — with its accompanying anxiety, nervousness, depression and lack of self-esteem — can be a result of being victimized by domestic violence, whether physical or emotional. People who have PTSD also are more likely to remain in a relationship in which domestic violence is present.


People who suffer from PTSD also may be more likely to abuse people with whom they are in an intimate relationship, creating another way in which PTSD and domestic violence are connected. For example, soldiers who return from war with emotional and sometimes physical injuries have a much higher risk than the general population of suffering from PTSD. They also are at a higher risk than the average person for abusing their spouse or domestic partner.

PTSD and domestic violence also are related because people who have experienced domestic violence at the hands of their spouse or partner may develop PTSD and then inflict abuse on another partner or spouse in the future. In such cases, both PTSD and domestic violence may be a self-perpetuating cycle that can only be resolved through therapy or the conscious decision to end the cycle and rely on the support of family and friends to recover. People who have suffered from domestic violence, people who have inflicted domestic violence, and people who suffer from PTSD can all recover with appropriate treatment, care and effort.


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