22 thoughts on “Trauma Of Domestic Violence: 7 Ways It Alters Your Life

  • July 6, 2016 at 4:29 am

    I am a domestic violence survivor and I found this article very informative as it helped me understand my emotions throughout those years, what damage has been done to my brain and personality, why my children have reacted in the way they have and just why I often revert to that emotional mess that I was, even after 20 years away from my abuser. Thank you. I have undertaken a lot of counselling over the years and educated myself in my quest to understand what happened to me and my family and why. Hopefully this blog will enlighten survivors and those who love them.

    • July 7, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Hi Ellen,
      Thank you for your kind comments and for sharing what you have learned.
      Domestic violence has so many negative effects, not only on the victim but those connected to the victim (children, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc). It is poisonous and has a sneaky way of tarnishing everyone.
      Take care

  • July 6, 2016 at 5:37 am

    Hi Thank you for the post about trauma from Domestic Violence. I live to tell you that both of my brothers all my life including up unti last Feb 2016 have abused me. Got away with it every time under the excuse from my mother that they never meant it..and didnt have a father who taught them how to respect women. I left Australia 15 yrs ago to get away from the abuse totally. Whilst my mother expected my understanding that their father lavished DViolence on her I never remember it. But she always had my blind belief and support. Howeve..five yrs ago i returned to Australia again and have been in total brutalised thru my two brothers acts of dviolence towards me over 5 years has totalled three assaults each three of which esp the last time being feb 22 2016 my youngest brother theatened to kill me. If it wasnt for neighbors no one would ever have belived me. I believe if he had not stopped due to a tiny noise in the garage I wouldnt be here today. Although there were two police ..two detectives ..two ambulance my mother lives in complete denial eventhough she saw me in hospital. I too always felt unprotected and portrayed by my mother. She never once got police involved and had seen most of the attacks. On one occasion my youngest brother told my mother to take my grandmother to her bedroom so he could do what he had to …to me. I have lived thru absolute trauma. Under duress by mother and brothers that if i ever reported any of it they would make my life hard. Unbelievable is I still stood up for my mother twice last year when she felt harassed in her work place one occasdion for being shoved aside by a colleague and the other where a manager removed a phone from her hands abruptly…MY mother was shaking saying she wanted to leave just from that. I went in to see the managers straight away to confront them. They apologized.
    As for the assault on feb 22 I never had to report it. I guess a higher power was watching out for me that day. Neighbors rang police. When police asked if I wanted to put a DVO on my brothers i told them the threat i was living under so they applied for the DVO themselves. Although my brothers could have killed me on more than one occasion all my mother could care about is that her son could still be issued the DVO. He and she have avoided court three times as its been adjourned. However I have been driven off relationships for all of the reasons one can imagine. And although I have a friend who is aware of all ive been through with my brothers and Ive told him I am not interested in relationships as he has attempted to get me interested in one. I have had to remind him a few times. One thing which really disturbs me is he has tried to hold my hand on occassions and although I thought he understood how affected I am …i have had arguments over his attempts as i feel like he is not really understanding or has really no idea why i cannot hold hands let alone have no desire for a relationship beyond friends.
    Im allergic to hand holding …find anything intimate or touching agrevating..down putting and invasion and totally unwanted. Im not suprised as i told him dont take it personal ..but cant see myself ever marrying.

    Anyone experienced sibling violence??
    From Miisha
    ( Australia Gold Coast fast becoming Domestic violence capital of Australia.)

  • July 7, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Hi T.,
    The timing of your article topics (and your insights) are always spot on so to speak. In fact, I was tempted to email you a bit of an update but I know you are likely very busy!
    As I previously mentioned in comments on your articles, my half brother and his girlfriend are in a very toxic relationship. She was again arrested recently–this time for violating conditions of release from previous d.v. against my brother. She is again out of jail and has recently begun turning to me for support. I feel stuck in the middle but I try to support both of them by encouraging sobriety from alcohol and pot, and getting help for their mental health and anger issues. I do this because I want to do everything possible to protect my 3 year old nephew who is never physically abused but has seen way too much and lived in dysfunction his entire short life!
    The other day, the girlfriend who has been staying in a homeless shelter, decided to lash out at my brother by filing a protection from abuse order against him AND was given sole temporary custody. The sheriff escorted her and my mom was babysitting while my brother was at work. They took him away that day and now HE is staying in a homeless shelter with his mom. She didn’t even BOTHER to go in and pack any of his clothes, his blanket he sleeps with, his toys… nothing but the outfit he was wearing. My brother has a court date to answer to the protection order on Jul. 15 and her court date for the d.v. arrests is the 18.
    I saw my nephew on Jul 2. She brought over. He looked clean, was fed etc. I bought him a new outfit and we played together. I still believe he is developmentally delayed.
    She told me that since he’s been with her at the shelter, he won’t take his shoes off–even for bed. She waits til he is asleep and removes them or else he will scream. My heart aches for him! I tried to tell her that is new for him so maybe it’s a reaction to being traumatized? She denied it and said he’s fine. Do you think it could be trauma based? Can I do anything to help him?? Thanks again for your articles here! Lori

    • July 7, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Hi Lori,
      Thank you, as always for your comment and kind remarks. I’m glad these articles are helpful.
      In regards to your comment on your half brother, I would say that there is a lot going on psychologically and emotionally with him. We can see this in the substance use. I believe I mentioned, in an email, that there is also lots of trauma there as well. As a result, his behaviors are reflective of that and sadly, he cannot see (at least right now) that he needs help in order to change. Once dad and mom can get help, their 3 year old can develop appropriately. If he has witnessed (direct trauma) domestic violence or even heard the violent arguments (indirect trauma), he is likely traumatized and will need some kind of therapy or support. Despite his age, kids know what is going on and their brains are quite developed at this stage enough to understand that something is terribly wrong within the parental system. Kids like your nephew are likely to start having sleep problems, temper tantrums, anger outbursts that are disproportionate to the situation, separation anxiety, depressed or low mood, and academic challenges (i.e., not wanting to go to school, presenting to teachers and peers as immature, etc.).

      Staying out of it Lori is tough. You love them. But if you think that the 3yr old is not safe (as mother has issues, per your report, as well), I would call your local social service or child protective unit. You don’t have to report abuse (unless you suspect it) necessarily, but you can ask them if there is anything you can do or they can do to help your brother, your nephew, and his mother.
      Take good care

      • July 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

        Hi Tee,
        Thank you for your thoughts and helpful suggestions. I was hoping you might shed further light on things we might watch for in young children–and you did not disappoint!
        I know he experiences temper tantrums/anger. I also know he has witnessed the near daily arguments and daily drinking, foul language as well as probably seen actual domestic violence. I made a report to child protective services back in January 2014. They were told someone was coming to see them in several days so that gave them adequate time to sober up, get rid of all the beer bottles, clean things up and formulate a plan as to what to say. Nothing came of that report except for them banning me from seeing the baby. Several more reports by others followed. One apparently was opened just the other day as the result of the latest d.v. charges.
        I am going to do whatever I can to try and protect my little nephew from this insanity.
        Thank you again!

      • July 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

        you’re doing all that you know how and legally can do. I applaud you. What might be helpful is when the child goes to school and teachers see signs of a child who is not doing well. Of course, we don’t want that to happen but if nothing else is working right now, perhaps a daycare worker or school teacher will be the next step. With domestic violence and unstable home environments, children who are overlooked often finally get the help they need when they start pre-school or kindergarten. Some families will suggest the child receive therapy for “support” and this is sometimes the child’s “ticket” to truly getting help from social services.
        Take care and I’ll pray for this little one

      • July 8, 2016 at 3:18 am

        Hi T.,
        Thank you for your prayers on behalf of my nephew… I believe in God and I pray each day that He watches over the little one, protects and comforts him! I have to say, I would willingly go back in time and go through my own abuse again many times over if I could in order to have protected him from all of this and let him start over as a newborn without trauma! But I can’t…
        It is hard not knowing exactly where he is, watching my mom cry because she misses her little grandson and worries about his father. It is scary when I think about my brother’s court date coming up next Friday to fight a protection from abuse order that his girlfriend admitted to me she got “just so I could go get my son.” Don’t judges tend to believe always when a woman claims she has been hit? I fear my nephew may end up even more traumatized before this is over and that would just devastate me –and several others!
        Sorry to ramble. I so appreciate this site and folks like you who take the time to contribute and also provide feedback to comments when appropriate and able to! Bless you…

      • July 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        Thanks Lori. Very touching. So glad I can speak with most of my audience/commenters and hopefully provide some support.
        Take care and hang in there.

  • July 7, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Hi..I witnessed very violent and bloody violence between my father and eldest brother. My father would have been drunk and my brother would be strung out after taking drugs. My brother was a teen and I was about 10 at the time. It mostly occured round the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, my family would be gathered round it and either my brother or father would say something and the next thing the table would be thrown in the air as they came to blows. I remember screaming non stop and terrified also cos my mum would try getting between them. Their fights were very vicious and I would just scream and then lock myself in the toilet until it stopped then emerge to the house wrecked and both my father and brother would be all cut n bloody. It was awful. Im 53 now and still think about it most days. I have been told I have PSTD and Im now getting meds for depression and anxiety. Im also attending behaviour management sessions to try and find some purpose to life cos dont enjoy anything now like I used to. Over the years i could never get close to anyone, I was drunk when I conceived when both my kids. I was drinking alot up until my 2nd child was 3 when one night my partner and I were drunk and started physically fighting. I heard my kids screaming and I was deeply ashamed and upset that I was about to put them through what I had as a child that i immediately stopped drinking. I have other issues but the trauma of those fights left me feeling detached and unsafe and cynical n wary of people til the point that a few years ago i started staying in bed all day n night unless I was working and my life eventually got unmanageable. Ive been told that trauma stops your brain from being able to proccess things and thoughts continually run round your head with no outlet all the time. I cant concentrate on TV or reading as my mind wanders back to try n make sense of something thats stuck in my head ontop of whats already going on in there.

  • July 8, 2016 at 1:20 am


    For anyone reading this, please be careful as it may contain some triggering info. I tried to keep it from being too triggering, but read with caution.

    I am an abuse survivor. I witnessed my parents both verbally and emotionally abuse each other. I also witnessed my dad hit my mom a couple of times.

    I witnessed both of my parents verbally and emotionally abuse my siblings (both older than me). One afternoon, I watched my mom backhand and shove my brother and then backhand and practically throw my sister across the room. She was just about to backhand me but I stopped her by calling her “Dad.” I was six years old.

    I don’t know when my abuse started. My siblings say that from the minute I could run I was protecting my mom from my dad, which lead to beatings for me. I always slept in my parents bed and mom always left the bed first in the morning, while dad made me stay too snuggle. I grew up being physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused by my dad; and verbally and emotionally abused by my mom. I still get the verbal and emotional abuse from both of them and I’m in my 20s.

    Throughout high school, I was sexually assaulted by multiple boys. I had an abusive roommate from the time I was 17 yrs old until I was 26years old. And I had an abusive boyfriend from the time I was 23 years old until I was 27 years old.
    I am also my own abuser. I started self harming at 4 years old with safety pins and progressed to other objects. I quit when I was 25, but relapsed when I was 27 and for nearly two years I self injured, worse than I ever did before I quit. I am currently 7 months into my recovery.

    I started drinking when I was 12 by the time I was 17 I needed (key word = needed) at least one drink every night. My brother was the only one who noticed and he was quick to put a so to that.

    I stopped eating when I was 15. At 16 it was rare for me to eat more than 2 small meals. I still struggle with this.

    I don’t know what happened but over the last 3 years, since my roommate left, I decided that I wanted to try to be treated better. I started therapy 2 years ago. I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression, dissociative disorder not otherwise specified, anorexia, and borderline personality disorder. I am currently diagnosed with PTSD and BPD. I’m far from the image that people familiar with BPD would picture me though.

    I don’t trust people. I love my therapist, but I struggle to trust her, yet she’s the one I trust the most. I am extremely codependent, but I am slowly overcoming this. I did pull away from all my friends, today I am trying to work on rebuilding a couple of my past friendships as well as making new friends, but it is extremely hard. I could see myself in each of the seven items in the article.

    Thank you for sharing this article.


    • July 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Rose,
      Thank you for sharing this touching story of trauma. All of the stories shared on this article are jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, and yet, courageous. Trauma and abuse are always difficult topics to discuss so I applaud all of you for sharing. When you share, we learn.

      Sadly, your traumatic experience is more common than we think. Therefore, you are not alone in not trusting others. Not being able to trust others is what I like to call a “fear response.” It is a defense against trauma, pain, or abuse. Humans are very similar to babies in that once we experience something traumatizing, it will take us some time to trust our environment and others again. Infants can be interesting as they often tell the story of a traumatizing event without saying anything. Studies on infants and young children who were abused in care facilities or residential facilities and left alone (day in and day out) without any human contact, emotional support, or love show that these infants grew into angry, temperamental, defensive, emotionally cold or distant, and insecure children. In fact, a history of abuse and neglect or trauma is often associated with borderline personality disorder, a disorder that includes fears of abandonment and strong defenses.

      I am glad that you are learning to trust your therapist. Perhaps she can help you begin to trust others again too.
      Thank you for your kind comment.
      I wish you well

      • September 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        Thank you, Tamara.

        She is trying to help me trust others too. It is definitely hard.


  • July 8, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Im on year 14 of continued harrassment from the ex and his band of greedy lawyers, he’s been unemployed all these years and still fighting for my house, so im never free of him, I now know my shaking and bad memory was due to trauma and not early altzeimers and Parkinson’s, im on alert always scanning areas and listening out for attack, he has stolen my life, I shouldn’t have to continue to live like this, my human right to be free of him is violated. Im sick of people not taking their oath seriously, and the judge told me im going to jail if I don’t pay him, I never refused to pay him from day 1 he refused to accept as he’s so spiteful and thinks he owns me, he is clever he’s fooled so many people as he’s on the top benefits, but now knows he’s not getting a penny so sent me his phone number to meet and sort things ourselves, I went into meltdown, now I know what’s wrong with me im demanding to know what is going on under the freedom of information, if I could sue some people I will for all they have done. Im a survivor.

    • July 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Jenny,
      I am so sorry for your trauma. I see survivors of trauma as unbelievably resilient. Trauma affects us at the core and takes years of healing. Some people claim they will never heal. Have you ever thought of searching for a trauma support group? Sometimes these groups can be helpful because there are no “professionals” (like mental health professionals) leading the support group but a room of people, who have commonalities, talking with and supporting each other. Sometimes having that support and knowing you are not alone is helpful.

      There is a law called Wrongful Life which hasn’t been successful in most cases but is interesting to read nonetheless. Some people have pursued it based on what they feel was wrongly done to them. Although this does not refer to you or other trauma survivors, included the link if you want to read about it.
      Take care

  • July 15, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Lovely article. I am a survivor of eleven years of domestic violence.
    I disagree with you about abusers’ needing anger management. They are amazing at controlling their anger. One minute they could be holding a gun to your mouth and if someone walked in (police, their boss, anyone they are still acting with) a switch flips and they are calm and sweet and charming. I think they have perfect control over their anger.
    Everything else is on point.
    Thank you, articles that brings dv to the attention of our people are helpful in changing the norms that are making dv acceptable in our society.

    • July 20, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Krissy,
      I wasn’t sure if I responded to you yet but thank you for your kind comment and for sharing your story.
      It is important to keep in mind that every abuser is different and many do require anger management in addition to other forms of help. I learned a long time ago that not every abuser is “predictable” and their behaviors can sometimes be “all over the map.” As different as we each are as humans from each other, that’s how different an abuser is from another.
      Take care

  • August 4, 2016 at 10:46 am


    My brave children and I are D.V. survivors.

    All in your article is true. Thank you for breaking the matter down do eloquently.

    To live with an abuser erodes everyone’s self-esteem. Our abuser convinced us that we couldn’t make it on our own, and that we were insignificant.

    Because I was in fear of him, it was difficult to leave him. Luckily, one day, the fear of staying outweighed the fear of leaving.
    The first month after our escape we all had frequent nightmares that he would find us. These frightful dreams caused panic in us all. I can say that every normal daily routine was affected. For example, for several months, every time before I drove anywhere, I would check the underside of my car to be sure it hadn’t been tampered with.
    From the day we left I made sure we all had weekly counseling.

    My daughter turned 12 a few days after we left and she began having panic attacks within a week. Trauma counseling gave her positive coping mechanisms. Having her feeling validated put her mind at ease so she could focus on other things.

    My youngest son was 9 when we left.
    It took him about a year to talk about the abuse. Even then he could only discuss one small thing at a time, spending less than a couple of minutes on it.

    The children have weekend visitation with their father. I was nervous for them at first. However, because of their counseling they have tremendous confidence. They have confronted him about the abuse but of course he discounts it. His dismissal was, initially, upsetting to them, but they soon came to the conclusion that he will not accept responsibility for past abuses. The great thing is that they are able to set boundaries with him. They recognise his small fits and tantrums and they are not phased. They know they can call the police if he ever gets abusive. They know I will come to his house to pick them up if they feel unsafe. They are now 14 and 11 and they know their voice matters.

    The chains of abuse are not easily broken. Attention must be given to the reasons we encountered and accepted abuse. Consistent efforts to raise one’s self-esteem are paramount. We had to become our own support system. We had to reach out for help in dealing with our trauma. And it made all the difference in the world.

    • September 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      The fact that your ex was found innocent of DV, and the fact that it took the children 1 year to start talking about “the abuse”, makes me think that “the abuse” is something you cultivated in them during this year that you had them alone, to manipulate their minds and create new memories of their father, “the abuser”.

      Obviously, social services did not go along with your plan of separating ther kids from their father. They saw through your game, absolved him of your accusations, and gave him shared custody of the kids.

      Still not happy, you keep on interfering and poisoning their relationship, by telling the kids, in advance of seeing him, that: “They know they can call the police if he ever gets abusive. They know I will come to his house to pick them up if they feel unsafe”.

      It’s like putting a toddler to sleep alone in his bedroom, but before closing the door telling him to call you, if the monster that lives under the bed comes out tonight… “again”! Sweet dreams, little one. All you have to do is wait outside the door for his desperate scream, then you walk in, to “save” him. It’s sordid.

      Your behavior is child abuse, trying to deprive your kids of a father just because you divorced him. Be a woman, stop being selfish, get a grip on your emotions and stop the damage you’re doing to your kids.

      • September 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        Hello “Amber, Amber”,

        Although, in some cases what you are accusing Amber of doing may be true, in other cases it is not.

        I am a survivor of childhood DV. I never told anyone about the abuse I endured or witnessed until I was 18. The exception is when I was 15 and my parents divorced, I tried to tell the judge, but the judge did what you are doing here. The judge accused my mom of poisoning me with horrible lies. My mom did not even know half of what happened to me. Yes, my mom was angry with my dad, and she had every right to be, but never did she plant anything in my head. Do not be so quick to judge people and assume they are creating these lies, because by doing that you are hurting the ones who are not creating lies. You are creating more of a shame surrounding opening up, you are not stopping anyone who is going to lie, because they do not care about what you or anyone says. Please try to be more considerate, and less harmful. Thank you.


  • October 25, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a social worker in a Domestic Violence Shelter and the supervisor of the Family Services program. Thank God we are a Trauma Informed Care agency ! I being a victim of DV and also a recovering drug addict, can see the harms that seeing, hearing a parent talk on the phone, or even in the other room can effect a child. My heart breaks working with the children though I have been working with families since 1998, these situations have been the most difficult. it takes most women 5-7 times of leaving until they finally leave for good. I often stress to the parents the important of getting treatment; to deal with their own trauma in order to break the cycle of domestic violence.
    I am grateful that I went to a one of a kind treatment program that focused on trauma. Once I dealt with all my trauma; including and mainly my childhood trauma, I did not feel the need to use any substances. I became a strong woman who knew my worth. Luckily the same resiliency class I took in treatment had a lot of Brene’ Brown Ted Talks included and 2 of her books were also read in our book group class that we also took at treatment program. I feel so alive and finally free from all the bondages that I had from all my trauma. I share that with many of the families I work with about the feeling of being unworthy, unloveable, not good enough, the shame and guilt for decisions that were made. I remind them that though I do not know what it is like to be them or in their situation; I know what shame, guilt, embarrassment feels like. Until the darkness is dealt with the feelings of shame and guilt are dealt with; often times victims continue to choose partners that abuse them due to the victims having the feelings of being unworthy, unloveable, etc. I know that’s how it was with me; be it the cycle of addiction, or domestic violence.
    The difficult piece of course, is working with the children. Often times they are angry, their feelings are not validated, are expected to just trust the parent that was victimized, etc. My role is to educate families about domestic violence, trauma, secondary trauma, hot to build a relationship again with their children, how parents that do not deal with their own trauma often traumatize their own children not realizing it.
    This article is definetly one that I am printing and adding to my educational articles that I share with families.

    Thank you!

    • October 31, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Hi AnnMarie,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m glad you found it helpful enough to want to share it. I don’t think we have enough resources for this issue because I find myself scraping around looking for added resources for clients.
      I love how you say you feel “alive” and free from the torment of trauma. Bondage has to be one of the most difficult things to overcome in a relationship because it isn’t at all logical. None of the reasons for staying with the person and enduring abuse seems logical. The logical response is to run, get away, and never look back. But I’ve seen so many women, men, and families struggle with this until they are completely devoid of strength an courage.

      Glad you are working with these families.
      Take care


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