Domestic violence can be broadly defined as any physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family or between intimate partners. Domestic violnce is not always physical violence! Partners who are controlling or manipulative, blaming and not taking accoutability are all components that contribute of the abuse cycle. The effects of the trauma experienced by a DV survivor are far reaching. Abuse of any kind (emotional, sexual, physical) impacts the way the victim views themself and reacts to the world around them. Chronic exposure to the trauma of DV affects one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Often victims experience anxiety, a lack of self confidence and a low self esteem. Vigilant awareness and/or feelings of isolation as well as symptoms of depression and/or PTSD are commonly a result of DV in the home.
A victim of DV is likely to experience physical effects as well. Overall health suffers- chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle tension, involuntary shaking, changes in eating and sleeping patterns are just some of the effects of the trauma.
Any domestic violence trauma can be extremely confusing. There is often a sense of self-blame and an inability to identify oneself as a victim and not the cause. Feelings of fear, resentment, or guilt can be carried long after the event. Psychotherapy and counseling is an excellent opportunity to regain a sense of worth and improved self-esteem. Therapy sessions help a victim see the events from a healthy perspective, and the negative symptoms from the trauma will begin to have less and less of an impact on daily life.
Many victims feel a sense of loneliness and isolation. It is not uncommon to view the trauma as solely unique to the people involved or shameful if others are aware of the past events. The goal of DV counseling is to alleviate the feeling of isolation one is experiencing and help a victim extend their support network to those who have been in similar circumstances. Healing through EMDR therapy is often a very beneficial method of treatment for domestic violence victims.