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The Impact of Domestic Violence on Mental Health

Though domestic violence may leave you with scars and bruises, the harm often goes deeper than the physical. An experience of domestic violence can have a lasting negative impact on your overall well-being. One of the most common and severe effects of domestic abuse is adversely impacted mental health.

Domestic abuse can leave you with a range of distressing emotions that make it hard to function normally in everyday life. Understanding how domestic violence impacts mental health can aid healing and help you regain your life.

How Domestic Violence Impacts Mental Health

Domestic violence can negatively impact your mental health in several ways. Depending on your situation and experiences, the effects can vary. Though they may appear in different ways, some effects are typical for those who have experienced domestic violence.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Though experiences differ, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a frequent reaction to domestic violence. PTSD is triggered by living through a traumatic or frightening experience that one has difficulty getting over. This disorder is characterized by increased states of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Other common symptoms include an inability to stop thinking about the traumatic experience and frequent nightmares. PTSD is different in all cases. Some people may deal with it for a  few months, while others suffer for years. Traumatic experiences of domestic violence have the power to cause lasting mental anguish from PTSD.

An Inability to Escape Bad Circumstances

Survivors of domestic abuse can lose a sense of agency in their lives. They often end up feeling they can’t change anything and escape the dire circumstances that put them in harm’s way.

This can affect survivors in various areas of their life, from work to school to home life. Many people take for granted their feelings of agency over their lives and aren’t aware of how damaging a loss of this faculty can be.

To make matters worse, abusers often capitalize on the compromised mental health of their victims to keep them in harmful situations and make them feel lower levels of self-esteem, worth, and confidence.

Factors that Increase Chances of Domestic Violence

Though every situation differs, some typical factors have been linked to increased domestic violence. Understanding these associated factors can help explain how some people become victims of domestic abuse.


Alcohol use significantly increases the chances of someone being the perpetrator of domestic abuse. This is mainly because alcohol can reduce a person’s self-control and exacerbate underlying mental health issues.

Alcohol and its relationship to domestic abuse should be discussed more widely so people recognize the risks to themselves or others trapped in a cycle of alcohol use and violence.

Disposition Towards Aggression

Those with a disposition to act aggressively, especially teens and young adults, are more likely to engage in domestic abuse than their counterparts who don’t display aggression. Though this is not always the case, and perpetrators of domestic abuse can seem non-aggressive outside of the home, these behaviors are indications of a higher chance of committing acts of domestic violence.

Resources for Those Experiencing Domestic Violence

For people trapped in abusive relationships and those concerned for them, it’s incredibly useful to be aware of resources for help before a crisis happens. Knowing where to turn in a moment of need can be life-changing and possibly even life-saving.

Domestic Violence Victim Advocates

Domestic violence victim advocates are professionals whose job is to assist domestic abuse victims in getting the help they need to escape and overcome these circumstances. These professionals have access to resources such as mental health professionals, accessible housing accommodations, and legal assistance.

The fact that these professionals are trained to assist domestic abuse victims makes them particularly skilled at helping people escape and recover from toxic and dangerous domestic situations.

Mental Health Professionals

Domestic abuse survivors can experience disabling mental health outcomes due to their traumatizing experiences. Mental health professionals, such as counselors and psychologists, can help victims deal with their mental health symptoms and to heal from the abuse.

Those professionals specialize in helping victims of abuse. They have the necessary knowledge and skills to help survivors get past their experiences to live life fully.

Domestic Violence Is Damaging, but Treatment and Support Can Help

Domestic violence harms not only victims’ physical bodies but their mental health. The effects of domestic abuse can last for years and affect your ability to stay in school, hold a job, or have healthy and meaningful relationships. It’s important to be aware of the severe impacts of domestic abuse, along with the symptoms and contributing factors, so victims can be provided with the help and support they deserve and need.



About the Author: Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries, including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children.

Photo by M. on Unsplash

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first observed in October 1987. It is a time to acknowledge domestic violence survivors and be a voice for its victims. In the 35 years since its inception, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals.

The free and confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 to help and support victims of domestic violence.

Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Text “START” to 88788

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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