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Effects of domestic violence are multifold
Posted in Trauma and Abuse - 0 Comments

domestic violence word cloud

To a passerby, this family appeared to be perfect; a mother and father out on a family outing, toting their two young children to the local fair. Anyone who saw them or knew them thought they were a normal, typical American family. But it was behind closed doors that the masks came off and a different dynamic emerged in this ‘perfect’ family.

Within the walls of this ‘normal’ home brewed a constant sense of anxiety. The husband has been terrorizing the family with his sudden, unpredictable explosive angry outbursts, keeping the whole family on edge. The wife, just wanting to preserve her family and their image among neighbors, friends and family, walks on eggshells and has chronic health problems as a result of perpetually elevated cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. The children seem confused by the emotional unavailability of their father and notice that he drinks a lot. They see their mother as a bit weak and pathetic, putting up with his criticisms and verbal assaults when they instinctively know she shouldn’t. Sometimes he throws things at her, and once he even twisted her arm so badly it broke, landing her in the ER.

This is the typical scenario, the staging, of domestic abuse. The cycle being perpetuated, over and over again, is outlined in the classic Violence Wheel,” a graphic used in the field of psychology to help patients identify with the reality of domestic abuse in their marriages or partnerships.

In the U.S., one in four women has been a victim of physical violence by their partner. Sadly, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in 10 high school students have experienced physical violence from a dating partner in the last year–the seeds for this behavior being shown in their own homes.

Other consequences of domestic violence include physical effects, such as chronic pain, loss of balance, eating disorders, memory loss and sleep disturbances. The psychological effects of domestic abuse can be life threatening, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse which could lead to dependence.

Intensive, long-term counseling is the most important step in overcoming the behavioral issues that have allowed the victim to be swallowed up into that never ending violence wheel. Boundaries must be taught, much work must be done to correct the faulty response mechanism the victim has acquired, which has allowed the perpetuation of the abuse cycle.

Victims of domestic abuse are typically afraid to leave their abusive partners. Many will make excuses for the abuser and even become defensive if a friend or loved one shows concern. They want to believe that he will change his ways, become more sensitive, will get counseling assistance, will attend anger management classes—surely he will do these things if he knows he will lose his family otherwise. This is what she thinks; the denial goes hand in hand with domestic violence.

Sadly, many abusers have these aggressive and destructive behaviors so ingrained in their psyches they will just go onto another partner, a new ‘host’ to terrorize. The victim spouse fears financial fall-out and societal disapproval—because on the outside this man, this family, looked “perfect and normal.” She is also terrified of being alone.

According to Forbes magazine:

Eighty five percent of women who leave an abusive relationship return. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a significant proportion of women who return to the relationship attribute their inability to deal with their finances as a major contributing factor, which is often enhanced by the fact that the abuser often has all of the economic and social standing and complete control over the family finances.

The reasons why women return to abusive relationships are extremely complex and have less to do with the content of the woman’s character and more to do with the effects of abuse. It’s widely known that an abused woman may leave her abuser seven to eight times before she leaves permanently.

The most important thing a victim of domestic abuse needs to know is that she will be in the hands of a treatment facility which will be a safe, secure place. At Sovereign Health of Arizona, we not only provide safe accommodations, but also will assist with childcare issues, financial and legal matters. The time to break the cycle of abuse is now. Call our women’s only residential treatment center at 866-598-5661.

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