Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Due to Physical Abuses

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow

Medico Legal

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Published on: 12 Aug, 2023

Physical abuse, whether it be in the context of domestic violence, child abuse, assault, or any other violent act, can leave scars that are more than skin deep. The psychological aftermath of such experiences can be profound, leading to conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This article aims to shed light on the nexus between physical abuses and the onset of PTSD.

1. Understanding PTSD:

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events. Symptoms often include:

  • Re-experiencing: Recurrent, intrusive memories or nightmares about the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance: Steering clear of reminders of the traumatic incident, be it places, people, or activities.
  • Hyperarousal: Heightened alertness, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and sudden anger or fright.
  • Negative Thoughts and Mood: Persistent negative emotions, detachment from others, and feelings of guilt or blame.

2. Physical Abuses as a Trigger for PTSD:

Physical abuse invariably involves the violation of personal boundaries and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. This violation can be traumatic, leading to PTSD for various reasons:

  • Life Threatening Experiences: Physical abuse can often place the victim in a situation where their life feels threatened, one of the common triggers for PTSD.
  • Repeated Trauma: Chronic physical abuse, such as in prolonged domestic violence situations, can compound the trauma, heightening the risk of PTSD.
  • Associated Emotional Abuse: Physical abuse is often accompanied by emotional abuse, further exacerbating the psychological damage.

3. Recognizing PTSD After Physical Abuse:

Recognizing the signs of PTSD following physical abuses is vital for timely intervention. Some of the red flags include:

  • Flashbacks or reliving the trauma repeatedly.
  • Avoidance of situations or places that serve as reminders of the event.
  • Feeling ‘on edge’ or hyper-vigilant, even in safe environments.
  • Emotional numbness or detachment from loved ones.
  • Persistent feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame.

4. Importance of Intervention:

Given the debilitating nature of PTSD, early intervention is crucial. This may involve:

  • Psychotherapy: Techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have proven effective for PTSD.
  • Medication: Certain antidepressants or antianxiety medications can help manage the symptoms.
  • Support Groups: Sharing experiences and coping strategies with others who’ve faced similar traumas can be therapeutic.
  • Self-help strategies: Activities like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and maintaining a routine can help manage PTSD symptoms.

5. The Broader Social Context:

Addressing the root causes of physical abuses in society, be it through legislation, education, or community awareness, is as essential as treating its aftermath. Ensuring that victims have access to safe spaces, legal recourse, and psychological support is vital.


Physical abuses can lead to profound psychological scars, with PTSD being one of the most severe consequences. Recognizing the interplay between physical trauma and its psychological aftermath is vital for both prevention and treatment. With timely intervention and societal awareness, it’s possible to mitigate the effects and aid victims in their journey towards recovery.


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