MYTH: People with PTSD are violent.

FACT: People with PTSD are not usually violent.

Having PTSD can be extremely distressing, as people are re-living their most traumatic experiences frequently. People can deal with these stressful and challenging symptoms in different ways. Some people may withdraw, some may appear fearful or jumpy and a small proportion may act violently. There is a common misconception that people with PTSD are violent or dangerous, but this is not universally true.

It’s important to note that people with PTSD who become violent are in the minority, and violence is not included as a feature of a PTSD diagnosis. Research supports that there is little or weak evidence to show that PTSD is related to higher rates of violent crime. People can deal with PTSD and triggers in many different ways, but reactive behavior comes from a place of fear and threat, rather than violent desire. For the portion of people with PTSD who may demonstrate violent behavior, they are more likely to have more symptoms in the hyperarousal cluster.

Violence among people with PTSD has been shown to be much higher in people who also have a substance abuse disorder. Substance use can amplify some of the feelings of fear that occur with PTSD and can lead to more extreme reactions, including violence. 



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