Yoga: Healing Domestic Violence

As human beings, we are vulnerable. We make mistakes. We are born with open hearts and minds. We allow some people to see that. And as inhumane as it can be, others may take advantage of that. Then, those actions, formative moments, or reminders get lodged into our memories as trauma. Domestic violence is common around the world. This article will share about Domestic Violence in the United States.

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men encounter physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes. About 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men endure some form of sexual violence during their lifetimes [1]. In 2014, they measured that 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. 60.8% of female stalking victims and 43.5% men reported being stalked by a current or former intimate partner. These are only reported cases. The numbers would be deeply affected by the population focus. For example, if women of Color were chosen as a study group, the statistics would be significantly skewed, especially because they have centuries of Genetic Trauma to also cope with in their body.

In further detail, studies share that yoga is a helpful intervention for depression and anxiety disorders, which may be beneficial for survivors of trauma. Preliminary research using a model of trauma-sensitive yoga, developed by the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts, has shown a reduction in severity of PTSD symptoms and frequency of dissociative symptoms, and gains in vitality and body attunement [2]. This research study showed that after 10 sessions of yoga participants exhibited statistically significant decreases in PTSD symptom severity and greater likelihood of loss of PTSD diagnosis, significant decreases in engagement in negative tension reduction activities (e.g., self-injury). The control group in this study were women, who attended the Women’s Health Seminars. They showed significantly less positive results. Trauma is something so deeply nuanced that trying to offer a one-step-method places humanity at a disadvantage. One medication cannot resolve this issue.

In a clinic, hospital members tried understanding trauma survivors’ relationship to their bodies before doing any work. They used a “body awareness scale.” Then they formed a control group, which was a patient trauma group in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The first round of results found that the patients who were doing yoga were feeling so much better [4]. Trauma-Sensitive-Yoga revealed profound affects in the patients, which led to re-connection to the world, awareness, and healthier relationships.

As shown, several research studies have guided us towards a deeper understanding for healing. Self-healing and preservation goes beyond medical treatments. There are several combinations of works that must be done to resolve the depth of emotional damage in our bodies. Through pressed emotional damage, one must heal through the affect of yoga. Domestic violence leads to deep trauma that is stamped into our system. Therefore, engaging with yoga benefits the whole body and leads to solutions for our well-being. Yoga is a source for healing and deep self-awareness.

[1] Huecker MR, Smock W. Domestic Violence. [Updated 2019 Oct 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499891/

[2] Clark, C. J., Lewis-Dmello, A., Anders, D., Parsons, A., Nguyen-Feng, V., Henn, L., & Emerson, D. (2014). Trauma-sensitive yoga as an adjunct mental health treatment in group therapy for survivors of domestic violence: A feasibility study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20(3), 152–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.04.003

[3] Rhodes, A., Spinazzola, J., & van der Kolk, B. (2016). Yoga for Adult Women with Chronic PTSD: A Long-Term Follow-Up Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(3), 189–196. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0407

[4] West, J., Liang, B., & Spinazzola, J. (2017). Trauma sensitive yoga as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A qualitative descriptive analysis. International Journal of Stress Management, 24(2), 173–195. https://doi.org/10.1037/str0000040

[5] L. Stankovic (2011) Transforming Trauma: A Qualitative Feasibility Study of Integrative Restoration (iRest) Yoga Nidra on Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. International Journal of Yoga Therapy: 2011, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 23-37.

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