November 11, 2008

PTSD Ups Veterans’ Domestic Violence Risk

An increasing number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder means an increased risk of domestic violence, U.S. researchers said.

Monica Matthieu, an expert on veterans' mental health, and Peter Hovmand, domestic violence expert, both at Washington University in St. Louis, are merging their research interests to design community prevention strategies to address what they say is an emerging public health problem.

"Treatments for domestic violence are very different than those for PTSD," Matthieu said in a statement. "The Department of Veterans Affairs has mental health services and treatments for PTSD, yet these services need to be combined with the specialized domestic violence intervention programs offered by community agencies for those veterans engaging in battering behavior against intimate partners and families."

The increasing prevalence of traumatic brain injury and substance use disorders, along with PTSD among veterans, poses some unique challenges to existing community responses to domestic violence, Hovmand said.

Research in the Veterans Administration shows that male veterans with PTSD are two to three times more likely than veterans without PTSD to engage in intimate partner violence, and more likely to be involved in the legal system, Matthieu said.