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PTSD and Relationships

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Have you ever heard the phrase “Happy wife, Happy life!”? For me that meant not bringing home the stories about work and just listening to her day rather than discussing mine … turns out this was just pushing pause on the issues from my PTSD. It turns out I was resenting every minute that I wasn’t being heard but still couldn’t bring my issues home because in some cases it involved either subjects I didn’t want heard or known about or in some cases the information involved privacy considerations that I felt the general public did not need to know or couldn’t know. Keeping these things bottled up also led to me bottling up other issues I was going through even though they were causing painful situations within myself. Today I am more aware of what I was going through than I was back then. To understand some of the effects that PTSD had on my relationship with my wife and my family and my friends, I look to resources for perspective and help like the United States Veterans Affairs website as they discuss PTSD and relationships: “In the first weeks and months following a trauma, survivors may feel angry, detached, tense or worried in their relationships. In time, most are able to resume their prior level of closeness in relationships. Yet the 5% to 10% of survivors who develop PTSD may have lasting relationship problems.” (

This study that is discussed in this article doesn’t just focus on American veterans but rather it discusses Trauma in many of its forms, though it is somewhat limited in which traumas it will discuss: “Trauma Types and Relationships

Certain types of "man-made" traumas can have a more severe effect on relationships. These traumas include:

· Childhood sexual and physical abuse

· Rape

· Domestic violence

· Combat

· Terrorism

· Genocide

· Torture

· Kidnapping

· Prisoner of war

Survivors of man-made traumas often feel a lasting sense of terror, horror, endangerment, and betrayal. These feelings affect how they relate to others. They may feel like they are letting down their guard if they get close to someone else and trust them. This is not to say a survivor never feels a strong bond of love or friendship. However, a close relationship can also feel scary or dangerous to a trauma survivor.” (

For myself, I was a Corrections Officer here in Canada and my traumas were in situations that pale before others but they were what affected me. They could be termed as a form of ‘combat’ but do not describe what would have been seen in wartime conditions. I won’t go into specifics here as that could be triggering for some readers. What I want to discuss is relationships. My own family outside my immediate family sees me very rarely as I cannot seem to place myself in amongst people whether they be groups of family or not. My own mother has trouble understanding why being amongst family is almost painful these days as all I feel is anxiety and hypervigilance at a reunion or wedding, etc. And my sister sees me as a poor brother because I only communicate by text. I need to get past these tendencies but that is what therapy is for!!

Just know that you are not alone in having relationship issues!! And that there is help!

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help.

Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.

We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help

The target demographic of OSI-CAN are but are not limited to: former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- which include Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, healthcare Workers, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Aboriginal Emergency Services personnel, Tow Truck drivers who clean up accident scenes and their spouses/partners. This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest and support volunteer first responders as they are not eligible for programs such as Workers' Compensation.

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