PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Making sense of PTSD

Having now left an abusive relationship I found that struggles began in other areas. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) became a daily (and nightly) problem. For me this didn’t make any sense, here I was now free of any form of abuse -although I was struggling with depression. Yet I was experiencing all manner of ‘flashbacks’. Furthermore, there was no initial trigger or understanding why they were happening. The worst was waking up following a bad dream thinking she was in the room with me.

Having to admit to being a male victim of domestic abuse (especially sexual assault) was extremely difficult. Perhaps these episodes of PTSD was a way of venting this frustration against a world of whom I considered did not care – this was enforced and endorsed by the police who failed to react or support me in my claims.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship
Flashbacks hurt

My experience of PTSD

Enduring any length of abuse whether physical, emotional, sexual or psychological will leave some form of mark. Some domestic violence survivors, like myself, will suffer PTSD. Suffering these emotions does not indicate any form of weakness.  I have had to deal with my PTSD which has made me relive my ordeal through flashbacks and nightmares that have interfered with my ability to function normally on a daily basis. This has often left me tired or uninterested in doing daily activities. Further symptoms are listed below

The symptoms of PTSD can include

  • Intrusive memories of the abuse – this can come following certain songs or smells or even being in certain places at certain times. There are no strict rules to this – it can just happen anywhere at any time.
  • Loss of interest in other people and the outside world – I found that I isolated myself from friends and was happy to stay indoors.
  • Insomnia (see my post on depression and sleep)
  • Agitation – I found that I would often jump at the slightest movement by other people
  • Depression – (see my article on depression)
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, despair, guilt or self-hatred. I questioned my self worth. If I could allow one person to do these things to me what was my true worth?
  • Physical pain that migrates throughout the body. I experienced headaches and joint pains.
  • An inability to imagine a positive future (why depression makes you feel guilty)

Following research I found that these symptoms will last for at least a month and can occur either directly after the trauma, or be delayed, beginning six months, a year or 20 years after the abuse has ended.


Everyone recovers at their own pace. As a minimum you should be seeking help and support from your doctor.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

I had to move to temporary accommodation and as a result I registered with the local GP there. I must stress that from the outset they were fantastic. She took the time to listen to events and and aftershocks. I was prescribed medication for both my depression and my sleep problems (see my relationship with medication).

My work supplied and paid for counselling sessions. Initially, I was cautious about sharing my thoughts and experiences with a complete stranger but she allowed me to work at my pace.


I wondered if the effects of abuse would ever go away. Yes, I am still jumpy at times and I still experience thoughts following certain triggers but I recognise these now and can prepare myself for this. I have not fully recovered but I sense a certain amount of freedom from PTSD. There was a time when I stayed silent about the abuse but a part of my recovery was to share what happened either with friends or by writing it down (via this blog), medication, counselling and a slow recognition of my own self-worth.

Dealing With PTSD Symptoms After Leaving Abuse

Dealing with daily concerns and pending court case

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Dealing with daily concerns and pending court case

Difficult day

I’ve found today fairly difficult. Of course, I’m still doing my routine of getting up and taking my pill. Then getting dressed and heading off to the gym for a couple of hours. However, the pending court case has been at the forefront of my mind today.

Good character

I know everyone keeps telling me that there is no evidence and it’s her word against mine. Yet, throughout my life I have avoided getting into trouble with the law and so standing in a court room is more than just defending myself against a false allegation. It is shaping my character and my standing.

I don’t suppose these feelings will go until after the court case yet even now I know that whatever the outcome it will change me. I’m also aware that I will probably crash and want to sleep – even if I am found not guilty.

Trying to keep myself busy may take my mind off things

There is nothing I can really do about it. I’m taking my headmeds, I’m going to the gym, I’m filling my time with things. I’m even considering changing my career and starting a fresh in something new. I suppose I just have to get on with it.

The point I’m making is that I’m sure these feelings are normal for anyone going through this. It’s just not a very nice feeling at all.

My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?

Why don’t men like taking pills?

I must admit I’ve never really been a big fan of pills. My arm would need to be hanging off before I would even consider taking a paracetamol. It’s not that I was being macho or anything. It’s just that I either not be bothered or thought they might not work. I want you to consider that there are benefits to taking medication. In my case Sertraline.

Considering what I had been through and what I was experiencing I felt that I really needed some sort of support. After all, I had opened up to the idea of seeking counselling (which as a new experience) and so some form of “headmed” may be beneficial.

I sought treatment almost instantly following my release from the police back in May. My doctor initially gave me a low dose – just to see how I got on with them. I must admit it took a while to see any sort of improvement. There are other forms of “head meds” available but it really is a case of trial and error to get the balance between any benefit and side effects. To date, they seem to be ok but, like I said, I had been given a low initial dosage.

Increased dosage

When I visited my GP last night as a follow up and to see how I was getting on, I wasn’t surprised when she suggested upping the dose. I must admit that I was equally grateful to continue with the medications at a high dose.

It is so difficult to consider how I would have been without them. But it’s not a problem to see them as  form of mental crutch. My view is that if I had broken a bone it would have been treated in a standard, recognised way. Ok, my head is broken, but I don’t see it as a problem to have medication to help me through this. After all, it was pride that had stopped me from getting things sorted in the first place.

Why do many people have moral objections towards taking antidepressants?

Depression. Why are men so bad at admitting that they have it?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Depression. Why are men so bad at admitting that they have it?

What is the difference between depression and feeling down?

There is a clear difference between depression and feeling down. To put it simply depression is physically painful and swallows you whole. But men are so bad at admitting that they have depression

I was never really one to share my feelings or emotions with anyone and this became a problem within itself. I found it difficult to share what was going on and even more difficult to admit that I felt a failure and was a victim of my female partner. It was often found that I was justifying her actions and felt that in some way I deserved what I got. I was made to feel grateful that she was questioning everything I did or challenging my thoughts and feelings.

Understanding depression – website

How did it feel to see no way out?

During my relationship with my ex I felt as if I had a bag over my head. I could not see where I was going or what was happening and I just could not breath.

Following my encounter with the police I quickly learnt that everything I believed to be true, was clear nonsense. As previously stated, I was always led to believe that the police were there to protect us from harm. Yet when I needed their help the were far from helpful. As a result my long lack of trust was further cemented. I hated the world I was living in and hated what I knew to be true. Life became physically painful and it was a real effort to do the simplest of things like getting up or eating.

You can understand when people say that living is more painful than dying.

Bad habits become a way of life

It took a while to realise that the cause of my problems were no longer present in my life. Yet, I still had the habits of feeling that I needed to tell someone where I was or what I was doing. I had fear of going home, not knowing what to expect as I walked through the door and being verbally and emotionally abused. It also took a while to realise that her allegation of assault (spitting) had no foundation or evidence and was based on sheer spite as she found out I intended to leave her.

It has changed me

Of course, the recent events have and will change my perception of the world around me. I’ve considered a new career. I’m tempted to just disappear and starting again somewhere else. I’ve considered so much but why should I run when I’m the victim? Yet, I’ve been suspended from work, I can’t see my daughter and I’ve lost my home. Would this have happened if I had been female? I very much doubt it and the proof is in the status quo of my ex.

I still don’t think I’m anywhere near full recovery and I expect to find myself falling again once all of this is over. But I’m more prepared for it this time.

Rethinking depression – website

Lets talk about it. Does counselling help?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Lets talk about it. Does counselling help?

Taking the step to seek support

Does counselling help?

For the first time I decided to open up about what had truly happened at home. I opted not to stay silent anymore and talk about it.

It was not easy to admit that I had been abused by my partner. The agony of sharing details related to sexual abuse was deeply shameful. I felt, and still feel that I would not be believed. To my surprise my manager was very understanding. As a result  counselling was instantly offered. Throughout my life I had been wary of attending such things but I felt that I had nothing left to loose by going ahead and see what they had to offer.

As you could expect I had lost all faith and trust in any form of authority and so approached my first visit with some caution. Thoughts an feelings had (and still are) being shared. It has only been in the last week (four weeks after the arrest) that I am able to see things a little bit clearer now.

A roller coaster of feelings

It has been a roller coaster of emotions and feelings. Suicide has not been far from my thoughts as the system it feels, is clearly stacked against me. I’m not allowed to see my daughter. I’m suspended from work, and social workers have not been doing their job properly by keeping me up to date. The police were utterly useless

As requested I attended the police station following my 101 call. The police were utterly useless. In fact I had bought it to their attention that whilst I was there, not a single note had been taken. It was quiet clearly a waste of everyones time.

Dazed – mental health and men not talking about it