Trauma can lead to aggressive, violent behaviors... Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have been through a traumatic event.
You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening. These symptoms may disrupt your life, making it hard to continue with your daily activities.
PTSD and Domestic Violence
There is a relationship between the experience of a traumatic event, PTSD and domestic violence. In fact, intimate partner abuse happens more than you may think.
National estimates indicate that, in a period of one year, 8 to 21% of people in a serious relationship will have engaged in some kind of violent act aimed at an intimate partner. Relationship violence has also been found among people who have experienced certain traumatic events or have PTSD.
Separate from PTSD, a connection has been found between the experience of certain traumatic events and relationship violence. In particular, studies have found that men and women who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional neglect in childhood may be more likely to be abusive in intimate relationships as compared to people without a history of childhood trauma.
In addition, people with PTSD have also been found to be more likely to be aggressive and engage in intimate partner abuse than people without a PTSD diagnosis. The connection between PTSD and violence has been found for both men and women with PTSD.
Several studies have been conducted in an attempt to better understand what may lead people with a history of trauma or PTSD to engage in aggressive and violent behaviors.
In line with this, a couple of studies have found that violent and aggressive behavior, especially among men, may be used as a way of attempting to manage unpleasant feelings. Aggressive behavior may be a way of releasing tension associated with other unpleasant emotions stemming from a traumatic event, such as shame, guilt, or anxiety.
While aggressive and hostile behavior may temporarily reduce tension, it, of course, is ineffective in the long-run -- both in regard to relationships and dealing with unpleasant emotions.
Despite these findings, it is important to note that just because a person has experienced a traumatic event or has PTSD does not mean that they will exhibit violent behavior. There are many factors that contribute to aggressive behavior and much more research is needed to identify the specific risk factors for aggressive behavior among people exposed to traumatic events or who have PTSD.
Mental health professionals have long recognized that trauma and PTSD increase risk for aggression. Therefore, many treatments for PTSD also incorporate anger management skills. Learning more effective ways of coping with stress is a major part of reducing aggressive tendencies, such as deep breathing and identifying the short- and long-term negative and positive consequences of different behaviors.
[ PSTD & Domestic Violence © 2012 The National Center for PSTD © 2007. Thank you for making this information available. ]
All people with PTSD have lived through a traumatic event that caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD.
Most people who go through a traumatic event have some symptoms at the beginning. Yet only some will develop PTSD. It isn't clear why some people develop PTSD and others don't. How likely you are to get PTSD depends on many things:
Many people who develop PTSD get better at some time. But about 1 out of 3 people with PTSD may continue to have some symptoms. Even if you continue to have symptoms, treatment can help you cope. Your symptoms don't have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.
People who suffer from PTSD exhibit a variety of symptoms. These can include a deep sense of helplessness, problems at home or work, abnormal fear, feelings of devastation, flashbacks from the event, a feeling of numbness, aversion to social contact, or avoidance of situations that might trigger memories of the event.
Some physical responses may include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty with concentration or memory, feelings of vulnerability, fear of normal every-day activities, or feeling overwhelmed by the smallest of tasks.
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you probably have PTSD.
1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger - a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
3. Feeling numb
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:
Children can have PTSD too. They may have the symptoms described above or other symptoms depending on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults. Here are some examples of PTSD symptoms in children:
When you have PTSD, dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. But treatment can help you get better. There are good treatments available for PTSD.
The DSM-IV describes the following signs and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
You've experienced a traumatic event in your life, and are obviously suffering. A mental health professional can help guide you in the healing process and can help you learn to live with the memories of this difficult experience. The treatments for PTSD include Exposure Therapy, which slowly builds up from mildly frightening situations to more frightening ones, as well as relaxation techniques for handling anxiety and group therapy, among others.
Historically, PTSD has been associated with military personnel and their reactions to traumatic experiences involving combat and warfare situations. More recently, PTSD has been linked to traumatic situations encountered by everyday individuals.
The trauma can be triggered by large-scale ordeals, like terrorism attacks or devastating natural disasters, or highly personal events like a single-car accident, losing a job or business, divorce, failing to achieve a goal, loss of a loved one, seeing or hearing of a death, personal injury, childhood trauma or any other life-altering experience.
PTSD can occur when living with repeated abusive behavior, whether they be physical, mental, sexual or emotional. Living with long-term repeated, or cyclic, abuse undoubtedly results in some form of post traumatic stress disorder.
If left untreated, PTSD symptoms can become worse. Some documented cases include addiction to drugs or alcohol; chronic pain, hypertension or physical maladies; self injury; overwhelming fear of death; compulsiveness; personality changes; and self destructive incidents, to name a few.
The good news is that PTSD is treatable. Unfortunately, many health care providers are not always able to link the symptoms with the diagnosis. By making people aware of PTSD, including individuals whose loved ones have experienced a traumatic situation, is one of the best ways to assist in accurate diagnosis and that can lead to treatment, and, eventually, healing, growth and recovery.
[ This article paraphrased from The National Center for PSTD © 2007. Thank you for making this information available. ]