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PTSD, a domestic violence charge and your military career

An arrest on a charge of domestic violence will leave you with concerns on several fronts, including what a conviction could mean for your military career.

You may have returned home from combat overseas with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Could there be a link between this condition and the possibility of domestic violence?

The charge

Domestic violence refers to a crime you commit against someone close to you, your spouse, for example, and can become an addition to a criminal charge such as harassment. If a law enforcement officer accuses you of domestic violence, he or she can arrest you immediately, even if the activity to which this charge is attached is only a misdemeanor.

The link between combat and aggressive behaviors

Research about PTSD is ongoing, but the most recent studies show that there is a link between PTSD and domestic violence. Indications are that this kind of relationship problem occurs more often than people think. Studies focusing on military members with PTSD find that depression can trigger acts of aggression. The military member who commits domestic violence may be dealing with bottled up feelings of anger that he or she may not know how to control.

Studies performed with men as the participants indicate that aggressive behavior may be an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions that stem from a traumatic event. It may be a way to release feelings associated with anxiety, guilt or shame. Alternately, it could be a response developed in the brain during combat.

Potential outcomes

Whether you go to court in the military or civilian system depends on the circumstances of your case. Regardless, the outcome could be restrictions that prevent you from performing military service. You have legal rights to a strong defense, and it is a good idea to explore all your options.

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