Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Sleep and DV: a strategy of perpetrators

Australian and English researchers have explored a link between sleep deprivation and domestic violence.

Coming across this research has made me focus on some of the domestic violence cases I have had over the years where sleep deprivation was a major issue. Typically, this involved a heterosexual relationship where the man was the perpetrator, and who engaged in more and more extreme domestic violence.

When even this didn't work, he would turn to remove that one sanctity we all have- the ability to put our head on the pillow and crash. He would use sleep deprivation- you know the type- turning the house into its own little gulag- waking everyone at 1, 2 or 3am with screaming, yelling and aggression. Sometimes it would be directed at one of the children, necessitating the involvement of the mother. On other occasions it would be directed at the mother, which meant the kids got dragged into it come what may.

Here is the summary of the research:

This paper argues that sleep disruption is both a strategy and an effect of violence and abuse which profoundly affects the lives of women and children. This paper traces the interconnections between the patterns of sleeping (not sleeping) for women and children living with and recovering from the effects of violence and abuse. It highlights the threat to the emotional and physical well-being of children and women and provides a non-pathologizing route into an exploration of one of the symptoms of trauma. It is based on a pilot study which interviewed 17 women, 14 of whom were mothers to 28 children. Mothers reported that many of their children experienced nightmares, bed-wetting, night panics and disrupted sleep patterns. Recovery of the ability to sleep was often slow and uneven with interactive effects between women and children slowing progress.

For more, click here.

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