Some may not believe that a victim of domestic violence can have PTSD. Most women suffer from severe PTSD and have no clue what it is or what’s happening to them. PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) is defined as a condition that develops after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event in which physical harm occurred or was threatened. Some symptoms of PTSD are:
- Reliving the traumatic incidents through flashbacks, hallucinations or nightmares.
- Avoiding people and places that may remind them of the trauma.
- Becoming excessively emotional about everything. Become irritable or have outbursts of anger.
When dealing with flashbacks, hallucinations or nightmares, a victim/survivor may have a hard time distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not. It’s like reliving hell over and over again. There was a time when my own nightmares would keep me from sleeping. I would go weeks without taking so much as a nap. It felt like my dreams were waiting to take over and I was afraid that I could not escape them.
In the avoidance, people and places will remind the victim of what they went through, this can almost leave a person in complete isolation. There are still places that I cannot go for fear that I will be reminded of what happened. I was told many times to face my fears, but every time I tried I would end up having an anxiety attack.
Can you imagine being so consumed with fear that you become immobile? Or you can’t catch your breath when a word is spoken or a sound is heard? Victims with PTSD live through it every day. And without counseling, it will continue. It took me years before I understood what was happening to me. Unfortunately, I did not go to counseling. I now wish I had, because to this day there are still things that I cannot handle.
As a survivor of domestic violence, I thought that I would eventually get over what happened. That’s the way a lot of us feel. That with time we will heal. And that is true, but talking to someone helps. Please remember that there is no shame in seeking professional help.