For this months Presidents Initiative I would like to focus on mental health. Abuse can cause long-term damage to a victims/survivors mental health. Many victims/survivors of domestic violence suffer from some sort of mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, and difficulty trusting others. Domestic violence and mental illness are directly correlated. According to the NDVC, 7 out of 10 women who suffer from domestic violence will have some form of PTSD. That statistic is heartbreaking.
Mental illness tends to impact all areas of a person’s life, such as work, interactions with friends, family engagement and personal relationships. It is important that we recognize this problem and are aware of the help and resources that are available. The following are some signs and symptoms that a victim/survivor of domestic violence might display…
- Panic attacks: a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and racing heart.
- Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
- Feelings of mistrust: losing trust in others and thinking the world is a dangerous place.
- Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social situations.
- Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain.
- Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
- Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future. Other symptoms of depression may also develop.
- Suicidal thoughts: thoughts about taking one’s own life. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, chat onlineat http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Victims/survivors should be encouraged to engage with a mental health professional that is trauma trained and specialized in domestic violence issues. There are specialized therapies like EDMR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) that have proven results in relieving anxiety, distressing memories, nightmares & insomnia, from abuse or other traumatic events.
Connecting with your local law enforcement victims advocate is a good place to start in finding help. I have included the list of victims advocates throughout the state as well as links to help you understand mental illness and find trauma trained therapists and throughout Utah.
I want to thank each one of you for your continued support of this initiative and ask you to continue to help me fight for awareness and change. Generations to come will thank all of us for joining together and saying “Not On My Watch!”