Symptoms of Domestic Violence

By Toby D. Goldsmith, M.D., and Maria Vera, Ph.D.
22 Nov 2000

Abusive relationships have a powerful psychological impact on the victims. Victims of an abusive relationship may experience some of the following emotions and behaviors:
  • Agitation, anxiety and chronic apprehension

  • Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult for them to relax or sleep

  • A sense of hopelessness, helplessness or despair because the victim believes they will never escape the control of their abuser

  • Fear that one cannot protect oneself or one's children. This person will turn down the assistance offered by relatives, friends or professionals.

  • Feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions or protect oneself

  • A belief that one deserves the abuse

  • A belief that one is responsible for the abuse

  • Flashbacks, recurrent thoughts and memories of the violence and nightmares of the violence

  • Emotional reactions to reminders of domestic violence
Physical Symptoms
Victims of domestic violence can also have physical symptoms that aren't directly caused by physical abuse. These symptoms are instead caused by the constant stress and tension of living in an abusive relationship. These symptoms include:
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Chronic pain
  • Restless sleep or inability to sleep
  • Genital soreness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back pain
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Mar 2015
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