It is Mental Health Awareness week and this year, the focus is on anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause someone to sweat, feel restless and tense and have a rapid heartbeat. It is a normal emotion in us all and for many, it is short-lived.
For people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary; not short lived and can feel overwhelming and out of control. That is when it becomes a mental health problem.
It is important to know that domestic violence and mental health are two separate issues. However, victims of domestic abuse can experience anxiety.
When hearing victims talk of their experiences of abuse, a phrase used often is that of ‘walking on egg shells’. That sounds like and feels like anxiety, because it is.
Imagine never really knowing when the next bout of abuse will happen – today, tomorrow, soon. Anxiety and fear are bound to happen because you know it’s coming, just not quite when.
Now imagine that the abuse is predictable and you do know when and why (even if it’s wrong). You’re home late because the traffic is really bad – an accident, not your fault and yet it will be your fault and you know there’ll be consequences. Verbal, physical, sexual. The carrots are a little under-cooked, the meat over-cooked. Consequences. Anxiety all the same.
It’s a bubbling of fear that you simply can’t control or feel you can remedy quickly. Cut finger, disinfect and pop a plaster on – quick right? Anxiety? It can take a lot longer to heal.
Abuse often causes anxiety because:
- Causes chronic stress, which is one of the most common causes of anxiety.Causes overthinking – did I do it right, have I done it wrong?
- Is bound to lead to poor confidence levels and self-esteem when you’re constantly criticised, controlled and coerced.
- Makes people on-edge/nervous, worried that they will be hurt again.
- Can feel isolating especially from perhaps the one person you thought you could rely on – your partner or a family member/carer.
All of these factors can act as anxiety triggers. As one victim said:
‘I suffered the abuse for over 15 years, it’s nearly six years ago now and the effects still give me problems in day to day life especially with new relationships or friendships.
I suffer anxiety because of it all and have been on medication for it for a long time’.
Survivor, Respondent to Psychological Violence survey, SaveLives
If you’re a victim or a survivor of domestic abuse and need help, please visit the following information sites or call the numbers listed.
Domestic Abuse help
Help with anxiety
If you or someone else is in danger, call 999 or go to A&E now
If you need help urgently for your mental health, but it’s not an emergency, get help from NHS 111 online or call 111
NHS urgent mental health helplines are for people of all ages in England.
You can call for:
24-hour advice and support for you, your child, your parent or someone you care for help speaking to a mental health professional
an assessment to find the right care for you
You will need to answer a few questions on their website which can be found here.
Mind in Bradford:
Helpline telephone number – 08001 884 884
Office telephone number – 01274 730 815