Domestic violence is often compared to a frog in boiling water. If you stick a frog in boiling water, it will fight to get out. However, if you place a frog in a room temperature pot of water and slowly set it to boil, the frog will burn to death. When it comes to domestic violence, the abuse usually does not start immediately on the first date. If it did, there would be no relationship. The abuse almost always starts subtly and builds into an abusive cycle that’s hard to escape.
For the frog, boiling water means death. Now if a victim of domestic violence sticks their hand in a pot of boiling water, they’ll burn themselves but they’ll likely survive. But the scars, the nerve damage, and the worry of burning themselves again might never go away or fully heal.
Similarly, the long-term effects of domestic violence sometimes never fully heal. These long-term effects can manifest physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
Physical Long Term Effects of Domestic Violence
Every minute in the United States, 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence. Physical abuse can include hitting, punching, choking, biting, using weapons, and throwing objects. Physical violence can also include (but is certainly not limited to):
- Harming children or animals
- Stopping you from eating, sleeping, or taking your medication
- Forcing you to do drugs or drink alcohol
- Smothering, trapping you, or preventing you from physically leaving an area
- Driving dangerously with you in the vehicle
- Poisoning you
- Not allowing you to access emergency services
- Punching walls or damaging the home out of anger
Depending on the type of violence inflicted, the long-lasting physical damage can vary. The physical effects can be scars that serve as perpetual reminders. Physical damage can include broken bones that don’t heal or even paralysis. Sometimes it can include a permanently changed appearance or dysfunctioning organs. In many victim’s cases, death.
Mental Long Term Effects of Domestic Violence
When a survivor of domestic violence escapes an abusive relationship, they must heal from the trauma inflicted. But survivors may experience the expected heartbreak of a break up like any other person. This combined trauma and pain can make it difficult to heal and make them more susceptible to developing other mental conditions.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, affects many survivors of domestic violence. PTSD manifests in several ways, including:
- Anxiety symptoms
- Panic attacks
- Nightmares or night terrors
- Suicidal thoughts
- Anger issues
Those struggling with PTSD may not realize it until it’s too late, which makes it difficult to treat.
Many of the symptoms like anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression may disconnect survivors from friends and family. As a result, survivors may find themselves without their valuable support system.
Anxiety & Depression From Domestic Violence
Many survivors may not be diagnosed with PTSD, but still, experience a high level of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are difficult to overcome without medical intervention. Yet, a large number of survivors are not in a financial position to access medical help or therapy. While the symptoms of anxiety and depression may lessen over time without therapy or medical help, that’s not always the case.
Brain Fog & Forgetfulness
When the human brain senses danger or stressful circumstances, it creates a stress hormone called cortisol. During ongoing domestic violence, victims night experience a near-constant flow of cortisol.
Cortisol can Harm the brain’s hippocampus, which can impair learning and memory capabilities. Survivors of domestic violence often experience brain fog when trying to learn new subjects. They may also have difficulty recalling memories from before and after the abuse ever happened.
Social Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence stems from a relationship. As a result, future relationships, even non-romantic ones, are often more difficult for survivors to navigate.
Estranged From Friends & Family
As mentioned before, survivors may feel disconnected from their support system. Survivors of domestic violence might find themselves struggling to communicate with friends and family for a long time. This is especially true about issues related to the abuse they experienced. Their friends and family may want to help them and be there for them. But, they may not understand the emotional and physical turmoil the survivor is going through and not know the right thing to say. If the survivor has PTSD, that makes communicating with them even more difficult.
Distrust In Future Relationships
When someone gets physically hurt, they look for ways to avoid getting hurt again. Oftentimes, it’s self-preservation to keep them from entering relationships with abusive people.
Survivors may also encounter issues in the workplace after leaving a violent relationship. The survivors must deal with the severe physical, emotional, mental, financial, and legal distress of escaping the situation. Meanwhile, they may find it difficult to perform at the level they were able to before at work. Many survivors aren’t able to discuss their situation with their superiors or colleagues. Therefore, their performance expectations may not be aligned with the survivor’s capability. As a result, an overwhelming number of survivors leave their jobs within a year after leaving the relationship. This can incur long-term financial and professional losses.
Hasset Family Law
Domestic violence may worsen during a divorce or the end of a relationship. But you don’t have to go through it alone. In cases of domestic violence, the attorneys at Hasset Family Law can help you navigate California’s legal processes to protect you and your family. Our team has over 20 years of experience helping survivors receive protective orders, safely navigate custody agreements, and start over. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.