Police work and in particular, death investigation, is one of the most stressful jobs in this country. Day after day, investigators see the worst of humanity, absorb the world’s negativity, and come home to families who love them. How can you not expect this to have an effect on your mind, body, and soul? Not to mention the effect is has on your family. So, ask yourself this question; is your job destroying your family? We need to recognize the warning signs of stress and how it can affect our lives and the lives of our family. The biggest danger in law enforcement related stress is ignoring it!
According to a 2002 study led by Rudy Arredondo, children of those in law enforcement “can develop traumatic stress vicariously” through watching and listening to their parents experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This exposure can cause symptoms such as hyperarousal, intrusive thoughts, eating disorders and aggressive, agitated behaviors. Children can even share the same memories or re-enact the LEO’s trauma by knowing that a traumatic event was experienced by the parent.
The research conducted on marriage rates of those in law enforcement has mixed conclusions. Matthews (2011) indicates that some studies have divorce rates of those in law enforcement as high as 75% while other studies indicate their divorce rates to be lower than the national average.
Tips for Strengthening a Law Enforcement Marriage:
- Leave the stress of the job, at the job. Learn to switch gears and pay attention to your spouse when you walk in the front door at home.
- Become an active listener to your spouse’s needs.
- Avoid the law enforcement culture and do not accept that the workaholic lifestyle is acceptable to your spouse. It is not healthy for a marriage to spend limited time together.
- Emotional detachment is needed for the job but learn to turn it off at home.
- Make a Planned Date Nightaround your work schedule and do it often!
- Do not allow “Partner Envy” or a feeling of competition for your time to enter your home.
- Be spontaneous, let your spouse know you care and think about him/her often.
- Keep your civilian friends (not everything needs to be cop, cop, and cop).
- Share the workload around the house and partner with your partner (hint-hint)
- Seek the help of a marriage counselor or help with PTSD if needed.
Tips from article written by Mark Bond- for full article click here: Married to the Badge
Police officers have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, possibly the highest. They have a high divorce rate, about second in the nation. They are problem drinkers about twice as often as the general population. These facts are warning signals for unseen problems that are not being handled.
Researchers use suicide, divorce and alcoholism rates as three key indexes of stress in a group of people. Clearly, police work is stressful. Hans Selye, the foremost researcher in stress in the world, said that police work is “the most stressful occupation in America even surpassing the formidable stresses of air traffic control.”
We need to recognize the warning signs of stress and how it can affect our lives and the lives of our families. The biggest danger in law enforcement related stress is ignoring it.
Police stress is not always unique nor obvious. Almost any single stressor in police work can be found in another occupation. What is unique is all the different stressors in one job. Many people see the dangers of acute stressors such as post shooting trauma and have programs dealing with them. These stressors are easy to see because of the intense emotional strain a person suffers. But what about the not so obvious, chronic stressors; are they important?
Chronic stress has at least two effects on people. First, prolonged stress causes people to regress. Their psychological growth reverses, and they become more immature. They rapidly grow more childish and primitive. A common example is a sick person who is miserable and in pain for several days. Any wife will agree that her husband becomes self-centered, whiny and irritable; he expects constant attention and care. He behaves like a young, selfish child. People naturally regress during chronic discomfort.
Second, chronic stress numbs people’s sensitivity. They can’t stand to see human misery continually. They must stop feeling or they won’t survive. The mind has this defense mechanism, so people can continue working in horrible situations. If they kept their normal sensitivity, they would fall apart. As they become insensitive to their suffering, they become insensitive to the suffering of others. When treated with indignity they lose not only a sense of their own dignity but also the dignity of others. The pain of others stops bothering them, and they are no longer bothered when they hurt others.
Police officers and death investigators encounter stressors in call after call which sap their strength. Debilitation from this daily stress accumulates making officers more vulnerable to traumatic incidents and normal pressures of life. The weakening process is often too slow to see; neither a person nor his friends are aware of the damage done.