Is violence in relationship a mental disorder?

Violence in a relationship is an extreme form of bullying and abusive behavior that can have far-reaching psychological impact on the person being subjected to it. From doubting one’s capabilities to being fearful about all future relationships, people experiencing relationship abuse are often in need of psychiatric counseling to get rid of the emotional scar and trauma. But when left undetected, these emotional upheavals could have a damaging impact on the quality of life.      

Relationships, both new and old, go through struggle, driven by fear, insecurity or an expectation of potential inconsistency. But, things take an ugly turn when relationship abuse becomes a part and parcel of everyday life. Thus, it is important to understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship, and seek counseling and support when things go out of control.

Emotional abuse: Most difficult phase of an abusive relationship

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, dating violence refers to a negative behavioral pattern, characterized by controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior, in a romantic relationship. It includes verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or a combination of all.

At times, the abusing partner resorts to emotional abuse when his or her wish is not fulfilled. Yelling in the public, resorting to bullying behavior, creating scenes and not letting the partner to hang out with friends and other relatives are some forms of emotional abuse that are characteristic of a violent relationship. It is also often seen that in an abusive relationship, the abusive partner indulges in “gaslighting” tactics, in which the other partner is made to realize that he or she is responsible for what is happening to him or her. The abusive partner very subtly plants the seeds of doubt and the victim ends up blaming oneself.

Common types of personality disorders in abusive partners:       

Abusive men and women are known to display the following three prominent personality types:

  • Narcissistic personality: People with this disorder consider themselves as special and often have a grandiose picture of themselves, and therefore, they lack empathy for other people.
  • Borderline personality disorder: It is characterized by extreme mood swings and an inability to maintain a healthy relationship
  • Antisocial personality disorder: A person with antisocial personality disorder will show no regard for right and wrong, and would also lack a sense of empathy for others, including one’s romantic partners.

It is estimated that teenagers and women are more likely to suffer from violence and abuse than men. As per the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly 10 percent of high school students reportedly suffered physical violence and nearly 10 percent experienced sexual violence 12 months prior to the survey. With the rise in social media, violence in relationship could take a serious form, culminating into life-threatening consequences, including suicide.

Some of the indicators of an abusive relationship are:

  • Stalking the victim on the social media
  • Being physically violent in public and private, and then, covering the act by giving gifts
  • Showing signs of extreme possessiveness
  • Keeping a partner away from his or her family and friends
  • Using emotional blackmailing and threats of suicide to prevent a breakup

A person facing relationship abuse tends to be timid, but occasionally, shows signs of despondency, anger and irritation. Such a person is likely to suffer from psychotic disorders like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with severe changes in personality.

Seeking professional help

When diagnosed, individuals suffering from mental illnesses should be sent for immediate evaluation and treatment. As per mental health experts, failure to treat individuals with severe mental illness can result in worsening of their health and gradually increase the likelihood of needing inpatient services.

If you feel your loved one is suffering a mental disorder, you can seek help from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know more about various mental disorders and their treatments. Call our helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our representatives, who can guide you to one of the best mental health centers in your vicinity.