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Violence Against Women
Impact of Domestic Violence on Mental Health

Impact of Domestic Violence on Mental Health

By Aleena Ahmed

Apart from the abuse itself, domestic violence has detrimental impacts on the mental health of victims. Being stuck in a vicious cycle of abuse, survivors tend to develop mental disorders including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Domestic violence exposes the victim to unparalleled terror, stress and vulnerability which results in them developing mental health issues. This fear can become overwhelming during and after an experience of abuse, which has a major impact on the mental wellbeing and the functionality of the individual. In fact, research has shown that the odds of experiencing PTSD are seven times higher for those women who are victims of domestic abuse than those who are not. Moreover, victims are also more than three times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts.

Research has also shown that domestic violence can increase the likelihood of substance abuse in some cases; women who experience domestic and use are six times likelier to develop patterns of misusing intoxicants. The results of a study conducted in 2007 in which survivors at a shelter were interviewed, showed that 60% of the women were alcohol dependent and 55% were drug dependent.

Despite the hardships faced by survivors there are mechanisms which they can use in order to help and support themselves through their tribulations, including therapy, community resources such as support groups and shelters. Survivors can turn to various avenues of psychological help. For example, many kinds of intensive therapy focus on guided meditation to assuage anxiety, in addition to addressing post-traumatic stress. They should also be encouraged to reach out to community resources and should be connected with crisis hotlines, support groups, and shelters. They can also be made aware of self-care plans which aim to help victims identify activities that can advance their health and well-being. This includes both physical self-care, such as incorporating exercise whenever possible or developing a regular sleep routine, or psychological self-care, such as keeping a reflective journal and making time to engage with friends and family. Such forms of therapy are meant to equip survivors with the tools they need to heal from their experiences and maintain their mental health. Lastly, survivors should engage in strength exploration; knowing their strengths and using them frequently. This leads to them feeling empowered and having better self-esteem.

All of this support is meant to help survivors regain control of their lives and of their narratives, and to afford them the freedom to access joy that the experience and aftermath of abuse kept them from.





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