The long term impacts of domestic violence

Sadly, it’s common to hear about the always disgusting, sometimes tragic acts of domestic violence. But there’s a story seldom told - the damaging effects of long-term abuse on the health of domestic violence victims. Read on for one real-life example. Deb had been with her abuser 11 years (of 17 years total) at this point.

From Whose LIfe is it Anyway? by Deb Thomson

"It was a year of poor health for the kids with frequent chest/ear infections and vomiting. I was experiencing migraines, skin rashes, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation and recurring nightmares that left me shaking uncontrollably; symptomatic, I now understand, of the constant tension from living in a highly stressful (and charged) environment where nothing made sense.

The longer a victim stays with an abuser, after leaving it takes around that same length of time spent with the abuser, to recover. I was with Wayne for almost 18 years; it took a further 13 years to recover to the point where I wasn't afraid to be around people, that long before I could fully trust another person and that long for me to not burst into tears in public over the slightest annoyance. Even so I still continue to have nightmares where I wake yelling (these are becoming less frequent) and I still jump at every loud noise, where my heart then pounds and I feel nauseous. This remnant of PTSD will no doubt remain for the rest of my life.

Leaving an abusive relationship early or not beginning it at all helps to mitigate the effects of trauma from being abused because short-term abuse takes on average less time to recover from, trauma is not so entrenched and the patterns of behaviour and thought the victim usually succumbs to when abused long-term, are less difficult to break.

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