Homes with a PTSD veteran (especially those who are not yet seeking treatment and
counseling) are significantly higher in incidences of all types of abuse.  This article is
dedicated to educating you on what your abuse type may be and how to categorize it.  

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), “domestic violence can be
defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power
or control over an intimate partner”. (
CLICK HERE to visit the NDVH website). Abuse DOES
NOT discriminate by marriage, economic background, or education level.  ALL people in a
PTSD home are at risk for being exposed to abuse behaviors.

Abuse is any one or combination of physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological
actions or threats of actions that influence your behavior.  Acts or words that frighten,
intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or cause harm to someone
are ALL examples of abuse.

Sexual Abuse

First off, YES, sexual abuse can occur within a marriage or intimate relationship that has
already been established.  There are currently NO statistics on the likelihood of sexual
abuse within a PTSD household.  Nonetheless,
Family Of A Vet feels it is necessary to
educate our veteran spouses with this information.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the following actions/behaviors in your
partner can designate a sexually abusive relationship:

  • Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
  • Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
  • Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
  • Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
  • Has ever forced or manipulated you into having sex or performing sexual acts.
  • Held you down during sex.
  • Demanded sex when you were sick, tired, or after beating you.
  • Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
  • Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
  • Ignored your feelings regarding sex.

Physical Abuse

Statistics show the physical abuse rate of PTSD spouses is up to 81%!  Based on the
number of current veterans with PTSD (300,000), that is a potential 243,900 spouses or
loved ones being exposed to a form of physical abuse.  Worse yet, statistics show up to
42% of PTSD veterans are committing “severe physical abuse” such as choking their
partner.  Number of potential family members suffering through this?  Approximately

  • According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the following actions/behaviors
    in your partner can designate a physically abusive relationship:
  • Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
  • Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked, or choked you.
  • Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
  • Scared you by driving recklessly.
  • Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
  • Forced you to leave your home.
  • Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
  • Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
  • Hurt your children.
  • Used physical force in sexual situations.

Emotional Abuse

Multiple studies have shown that PTSD spouses are most likely exposed to this type of
domestic violence more than any other type of violence.  Nearly ALL studies have shown
that 100% of PTSD veterans have committed at least one example of emotional abuse or
psychological abuse within the past year.  That means we have well over 300,000 loved
ones who are being emotionally abused by their veteran who is not getting help.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the following actions/behaviors in your
partner can designate an emotionally abusive relationship:

  • Calls you names, insults you, or continually criticizes you.
  • Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
  • Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
  • Monitors where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with. (this is a MAJOR
    one based on most PTSD spouse reports).
  • Does not want you to work.
  • Controls finances or refuses to share money.
  • Punishes you by withholding affection.
  • Expects you to ask permission. (this is often the feeling of “he doesn’t know the
    difference between his soldiers and me”)
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family, or your pets.
  • Humiliates you in ANY way.

While there are lots of resources available to women trapped in domestic violence
situations, resources to help you until your spouse gets help are very few.  Veteran families
can recover and go on to lead happy, healthy lives together once a Veteran receives
counseling.  But, dealing with the "in the mean time" part is what we're trying to help with!

PLEASE NOTE: Women who have reported physical abuse to authorities have lost their
children.  Law enforcement and child protection agencies typically do not see a difference
between a Veteran with PTSD who needs help and an a**hole who enjoys slapping his wife
around.  You need to make the choice that will be the best for you and your children.

Please read our other articles about the “Ideal” safe house and finding a plan to get there
and if you need immediate assistance or counseling, please notify the National Domestic
Violence Hotline.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Or contact them online at

Another good source of information is the National Center Against Domestic Violence.  You
can find them online at

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient.  If you would like to contact Heather directly, you can e-mail her at
Heather -at- or

The following articles about dealing with Domestic Violence are also available on Family Of
A Vet:

When Nightmares Become Real (Part 1): Creating a Safe Place for Children - A step-by-
step guide on creating a safe haven for your children in the event of the unthinkable.

When Nightmares Become Real (Part 2): Creating an Escape Plan - This article will help
you work out a plan for use in case of an emergency Domestic Violence situation.  Again,
we are not advocating divorce!  But, if your Vet is becoming increasingly angry or violent,
you should for your own safety and the safety of your children, have a plan in place.

What is Domestic Violence?

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