Migraine and Domestic Violence

Many migraineurs have heard about the well-established link between child abuse and migraine, but fewer know about the equally important link between domestic violence and migraine.

According to the CDC, the number of women who have suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner is a staggering 1 in 4. When emotional abuse is included that number rises to more than 1 in 3 (roughly 44%1). Most notable for migraineurs is the fact that people who have experienced domestic violence are significantly more likely2 than people who have not experienced abuse to suffer chronic health problems, including migraine.

A 2011 Peruvian study3 found that domestic violence increases the risk of having migraine by over 40 percent. For women who also suffer from depression, the risk doubles. And, while most of us associate physical violence – hitting, kicking, punching, etc. – with the term domestic violence, abuse doesn’t have to be physical to have devastating consequences. In fact, More Magazine has reported4, that emotional abuse may be a more potent trigger for chronic pain issues than physical abuse. A 1999 Mexican study reveals why this link may exist.

“SOME NEUROLOGIC disorders induce behavioral changes associated with impulsiveness and violence. Conversely, other neurologic disorders induce disabilities that might leave the patient vulnerable to violence on the part of their caregivers,” wrote the authors of the study5. “Reports on the causality of domestic violence indicate that physical, psychological, and sexual abuse take place in the context of power imbalance and sex. Chronic neurologic diseases produce high rates of disability, because the patients are affected in their cognitive, motor, or social functioning; this circumstance places them in a vulnerable position for abuse, as they are frequently dependent on their spouses, caregivers, and relatives for daily activities.”

If you or someone you love is suffering from domestic violence, especially if chronic illness is involved, get help. Talk to a doctor or friend and review the links below. Abuse has serious medical and psychological consequences. Don’t suffer alone.

Recognize the Warning Signs of Abuse

Abusers often:

  • Belittle and/or humiliate their partners
  • Criticize their partners
  • Objectify their partners
  • Have a bad, unpredictable temper
  • Act overly jealous and possessive
  • Destroy their partners’ belongings
  • Control their partners’ finances, social engagements, clothing choices, etc.
  • Threaten their partners and/or their partners’ children
  • Force their partners to have sex
  • Limit their partners’ access to friends, family, jobs/careers, and money
  • Withhold access to cars, credit cards, the telephone, and/or money
  • Deny access to basic necessities: food, clothing, medical treatment, medications, etc.
  • Apologize for their behaviors and say they won’t happen again
  • Blame their partners for the abuse
  • Escalate their behaviors

People experiencing abuse often:

  • Feel afraid of their partners
  • Avoid certain topics and/or activities for fear of angering their partners
  • Feel unable to please their partners
  • Believe they deserve to be treated badly
  • Feel emotionally numb and/or helpless
  • Doubt their sanity
  • Give in to their partners’ demands
  • Check in with their partners often, giving details and justifications for who they are with and what they are doing
  • Miss or cancel work, school, and social occasions without explanation
  • Dress inappropriately for the weather
  • Experience frequent injuries and/or medical problems
  • Have little access to money
  • Undergo personality and/or mood changes

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