A major social issue that plagues our country and the world is Domestic Violence. During the quarantine period of COVID-19, there has been a marked increase in domestic violence cases, women being the worst victims of it.
What is also important to note is that domestic violence does not always leave visible wounds. In fact, more often than not the victims are left with greater psychological wounds than physical ones.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Often used synonymously with intimate partner violence, domestic violence is the violence or abuse carried out in a family, co-habitation, or domestic setting. It involves abuse that is physical, mental, emotional, sexual, religious, and economic in nature. Even coercion to do activities that one does not want to do falls under the purview of domestic violence.
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence victims have admitted to dealing with fear, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, withdrawal from society, and suicidal thoughts.
Many domestic violence victims suffer from depression
Depression, Self Harm, and Suicide
In domestic violence, the victim is often made to feel guilty about their existence, activities, and behavior which, according to the abuse perpetrator, are what cause them to become violent. ‘Gaslighting’ is a term that we frequently hear nowadays in relation to domestic violence. Domestic violence victims are time and again gaslit, i.e. they are made to feel that the violence they suffer is their own fault.
This continuous emotional and physical hostility directed towards the victims creates a sense of worthlessness in them. It is almost inevitable that the sufferers develop depression in the face of such a setting.
Such feelings often persist and the victim might have to go through years of therapy to recover from the trauma. Depression also implies that the victim may seek refuge in self-harm or suicide to escape from the cruelties that they face.
Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are found in most domestic violence victims. A significant section of them has heightened panic and anxiety disorder due to functioning in settings where there was continued and inescapable violence. Some of them withdraw from society or hole themselves up in a place where they feel the safest.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Additionally, many victims of domestic abuse are psychologically impacted enough to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have flashbacks and nightmares associated with their abuse, suffer from intrusive thoughts and images, and can be startled or triggered easily by things that remind them of their time of suffering.
These psychological responses to domestic abuse may be debilitating and they sometimes leave a person unable to carry on with their lives even after their abuse has ended. The scars remain even as the evidence fades. To get away from the reality of their situation and their own thoughts, some victims resort to substance abuse.
Victims may also resort to substance abuse
More disturbing are the cases where children are present in the vicinity of abuse. Children, in the developmental stages of life, have minds that are still evolving and adapting. Exposure to violence at such a young age may severely impact the lives that they will lead in the future.