Family violence, also known as domestic violence, intimate partner violence, relationship violence or interpersonal violence, is a pattern of intentionally violent or controlling behavior used by a person against a family member or intimate partner to gain and maintain power and control over that person, during and/or after the relationship. Some examples of this type of behavior include, but are not limited to:
- Persistent calling at work
- Not allowing someone to work
- Physical abuse
- Controlling someone’s schedule
- Not permitting the use of birth control
- Limiting and/or controlling the use of the car
- Name-calling and/or threatening family, friends, and/or pets
- Destruction of property
- Not allowing access to phones and/or monitors calls
A family violence experience is very common amongst youth, single adults and families who become homeless. For many in this situation, it is the immediate cause of their homelessness. Survivors of family violence may turn to homeless service programs looking for a safe temporary place to stay after escaping an abusive relationship. Others may turn to homeless service programs because they lack the economic resources after leaving an abusive relationship
Regardless of the type of family violence, the experience remains extremely traumatic. Many people who experience family violence struggle with finding a way to cope with what they have gone through. While being exposed to a traumatic experience can trigger mental health problems, treatment can help family violence survivors get back on their feet.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is characterized as physical or emotional damage caused by an assault, such as family violence.
Regardless of the cause or type, trauma will both shock and change the body. These changes and symptoms include:
- Emotional: Emotions and feelings of guilt, fear, shame, anger, and pain.
- Cognitive: Inability to process thoughts and make decisions.
- Spiritual: Change in understanding and meaning of life, society and the world can be affected.
- Physical: Change in joints, muscles, digestion, metabolism, sleep, body temperature, and immune system.
- Social: Relationships with spouses, family, and friends may be altered making it difficult to cope with the experienced trauma.
Over time, if the trauma persists, specifically for more than a month, the victim may be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can develop after a very stressful, frightening or distressing event, or after a prolonged traumatic experience. Survivors of family violence fall into this category, making them very likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. While not everyone who suffers from trauma develops PTSD, those who do are not weak; PTSD is not a sign of weakness.
PTSD symptoms can be separated into 3 categories, including:
- Avoiding reminders of trauma including places, people, thoughts, or other activities that can be associated with the event. This constant avoidance can lead to detachment and isolation from family and friends, and possibly even a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
- Reliving the event through recurring nightmares, flashbacks or other invasive thoughts that occur randomly at any time. There are also some physical symptoms that would fall into this category such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tension, rapid breathing, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Hyper-aroused or on guard at times, including feeling sudden anger, having difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration and being overly alert and easily startled.
PTSD, which is often undiagnosed, when left untreated can lead to a variety of serious additional conditions. For example, PTSD can have an effect on an individual’s cognitive functioning and can lead to unpleasant behaviors such as increased temper and detachment. People with PTSD may end up feeling isolated and alone. Serious depression is always a risk with PTSD. Additionally, people may demonstrate suicidal thoughts or actions while in the midst of a PTSD episode.
While these symptoms are serious, they can be corrected and eliminated with proper treatment.
Early Intervention and Treatment is Critical
Family violence has the potential to leave lasting scars that have the potential to completely alter a person’s demeanor and character for the rest of their life if left untreated. Seeking treatment can completely turn your life around after a traumatic event, giving you the chance to be the best possible version of yourself.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and similar mental health issues. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages of the therapy is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Normally, one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing an individual from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on violent personal assault victims, combat veterans and others.
As awful as family violence may be, there is always hope. Do not let trauma from your past continue to control your life. Contact ART International to learn more or to find an ART therapist near you.