Victims of domestic violence, both men and women, can experience long-lasting effects, including mental health disorders, according to new research from King’s College of London’s Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Bristol.
Previous studies have focused on depression as the link between abuse and mental health problems, but this study was the first to look widely at the issue affecting both female and male victims.
According to the results of the study published in PLOS ONE, women with depressive disorders were about 2.5 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence over their adult lifetime compared to women without mental health problems. Women with anxiety disorders were more than 3.5 times more likely; and women with post-traumatic stress disorder were about seven times more likely.
As well, men with various types of mental disorders were at risk of experiencing increased domestic violence, though with less frequency than their female counterparts.
Professor Louise Howard, senior author of the study from King’s Institute of Psychiatry, stated: “In this study, we found that both men and women with mental health problems are at an increased risk of domestic violence. The evidence suggests that there are two things happening: domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.”
Howard concluded: “Mental health professionals need to be aware of the link between domestic violence and mental health problems, and ensure that their patients are safe from domestic violence and are treated for the mental health impact of such abuse.”