VHA Social Work
Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) - VETERANS & PARTNERS - What Can I Do?
Experiencing trauma, either in childhood or as an adult, including combat trauma, can impact a person’s perceptions about intimate partner relationships. This can lead to escalating conflicts and unhealthy reactions to conflict.
This can lead to feeling trapped in an unhealthy or abusive cycle of behavior that is destroying your relationships. It is hard to know what to do to break that cycle. But, there is help! The VA has many programs for Veterans and their partners who want to stop the unhealthy or abusive cycle and strive for healthy, meaningful relationship.
Whatever your situation, recognizing the warning signs of a problem is the first step to changing it! Take a look at the warning signs below. If any sound familiar to you, talk to your local Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program Coordinator who can help you find the right services for you and your partner.
Ask yourself whether you’ve ever engaged in any of the following:
- Do you tend to blame your behavior (hurtful words or actions) on your partner, stress or situation (bad day)?
- Do you get upset at your partner for things that are beyond their control?
- Have you found yourself ordering your partner to do something and expecting them to react in the same way a Servicemember would?
- Do you rely on your partner as your only source of social support?
- Have you used aggression or physical intimidation in an attempt to make a point or to stop an argument?
- Do you have a difficult time navigating the transition from military to civilian life? Are you using the same way of communication that you used in the service now with your partner?
- Have you ever threatened to hurt yourself during an argument or to influence a partner’s behavior?
- Do you notice you tend to assume the worst in your partner? Do you feel unloved or disrespected easily?
- Do you feel so afraid of losing your partner that you feel you would do anything?
- Do you expect your partner to “just know” what’s bothering you?
- Are you checking your partner’s email, social media, phone or location?
If you drink alcohol or use drugs (including prescription), ask yourself:
- Do you tend to say things you regret or notice physical fights happen or are more likely to happen when you have been drinking or using?
- Have you noticed you tend to think worse of your partner or their intentions when you are drinking or using?
- Do you ever find yourself blaming your actions on alcohol or drugs?
- Do you expect your partner to drink or use with you? Do you get mad if they do not want to drink or use?
If you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ask yourself:
- Do you feel that your PTSD symptoms affected your relationship?
- Do you expect your partner to help you cope with your symptoms?
- Do you ever feel so irritable or on edge that you lash out at your partner (insults, threats, intimidation or physical force).
- Are you concerned for the safety of you and your partner or family that you restrict your partner’s actions (who they can see and how often they can leave the house).
- Do you feel the trauma you have experienced has affected your trust in others and has this affected your relationship?
Having PTSD does not cause someone to use violence, but symptoms can contribute to anger and decrease in closeness and trust. Engaging in a trauma-based therapeutic program is essential in helping to heal the wounds caused by the trauma and to have lasting, healthy relationships.
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, help is available. The VA has a variety of programs and services to help restore healthy relationships.
Go to the next tab, Tips & Resources, to learn what you can do if you feel you are at risk of using IPV, or want to improve your relationship skills.