Guns and Homicide
A woman’s risk of homicide increases significantly when her abuser has access to a gun. Each month, an average of 52 American women are fatally shot by their current or former partners. Even more are injured. BIPOC women, especially Black, Native, and Hispanic women, are at even greater risk of being fatally shot. This is due largely because they have a harder time accessing services and support that can keep them safe.
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If you’ve decided it’s time to leave an abusive relationship, you may be wondering what to do next. Whether the abuse was emotional, physical, or both, it’s a good idea to plan for how to move on safely.
Before we get into that, take a moment to acknowledge how strong you are for taking care of your needs. It’s not always easy to recognize and take action when we’re being treated poorly. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, and you’ve already taken the first step on that path.
Things to consider as you move forward:
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Dealing with the mental scars of abuse
Anna started seeing LifeWire’s Mental Health Therapist because she was experiencing symptoms of severe trauma. She felt numb and disoriented, had trouble focusing at work, and was having panic attacks.
Abuse, whether physical or psychological, can affect survivors’ mental health. People who experience trauma because of domestic violence are at significantly higher risk for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Survivors may also try to escape pain and depression with substance use or consider suicide.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’re turning our attention to one of the most common mental health issues affecting survivors of domestic abuse: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in people who have experienced (either directly or indirectly) a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. We often think about PTSD concerning combat veterans, but it’s also common among survivors of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Everyone experiences trauma in their own way. If two people experience the same traumatic event, one may develop PTSD and not the other. Any traumatic event can cause PTSD, whether it was an isolated incident like a sexual assault or long-term trauma like an abusive relationship. If you’re concerned you or someone you know may have developed PTSD, read on to learn more.
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DV and Sexual Assault
Did you know that sexual assault and domestic violence often go hand in hand? When we hear the term sexual assault, we often think of attacks by strangers. This isn’t always the case. In fact, around 33% of sexual assaults are committed by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. And nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
Intimate partner violence also tends to start young, during the “tween” or teenage years. The CDC reports that among survivors of sexual assault, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, more than 22% of female survivors and 15% of male survivors experienced intimate partner violence for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. Between the ages of 18 and 24, those figures jump to nearly half of female survivors and one-third of male survivors.
So we know that intimate partners commit sexual assault, and we know these issues affect adolescents as young as 11 years of age. The big question is, what can we do to change this?
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