Domestic Violence: 1 Major Consequence

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Domestic violence is a very significant topic for trauma therapists. Why? Because we have so many obstacles and barriers to face in the attempt to protect the victim(s). Sadly, trauma therapists are often unable to help a victim heal completely due to the traumatic affects of the abuse on the victim and those connected to the victim. There are multiple consequences to experiencing domestic violence but one major affect includes the:

  1. The brain: Trauma affects the brain in various ways including levels of cortisol (i.e., a stress hormone that is secreted from a pea-sized gland in your brain). The pituitary gland is located in the middle of your brain and is “reactionary” to stress. When your brain “senses” stress or is in fight or flight mode, the pituitary gland releases the stress hormone cortisol which results in a variety of changes throughout the body. Your body is preparing itself to fight or flee from the threat or danger. When the threat of danger is gone, the fight or flight system is “turned off.” For children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced high levels of stress over a long period of time (such as is the case in families of domestic violence), the body’s fight or flight response stays on all of the time, especially if the brain and body is hyper-vigilant to danger or threat. The repeated release of cortisol and a host of other hormones  can result in permanent brain changes. Young children, from infancy to toddler age, can exhibit delayed developmental milestones. Children and adolescents may begin to show antisocial tendencies such as oppositional behavior, delinquency, substance abuse, unprotected sex, and other similar behaviors. Adults may also show similar behaviors in addition to poor interpersonal relationships, poor boundaries, challenges with maintaining employment, and severe mental health disorders.


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