People with mental disorders are more likely to have experienced domestic violence, according to new research.
While previous research into the link between domestic violence and mental health problems focused on depression, this new study from UK researchers at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Bristol looked at a wide range of mental health problems in both men and women.
The researchers reviewed data from 41 studies around the world. Compared to women without mental health problems, women with depression were around 2.5 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence over their adult lifetime (prevalence estimate 45.8 percent).
Women with anxiety disorders were over 3.5 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence (prevalence estimate 27.6 percent), and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were around 7 times more likely (prevalence estimate 61 percent).
Women with other disorders, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, were also at an increased risk of domestic violence compared to women without mental health problems, according to the researchers.
Men with all types of mental disorders were also at an increased risk of domestic violence. However, prevalence estimates for men were lower than those for women, indicating that it is less common for men to be victims of repeated severe domestic violence, the researchers noted.
“In this study, we found that both men and women with mental health problems are at an increased risk of domestic violence,” said King’s Institute of Psychiatry Professor Louise Howard, Ph.D., senior author of the study.
“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.”
“We hope this review will draw attention to the mental health needs of survivors of domestic violence and remind general practitioners and mental health teams that experience of domestic violence may lie behind the presentation of mental health problems,” added University of Bristol Professor Gene Feder, M.D., who is also the chief investigator of PROVIDE, a five-year research program on domestic violence.
Internationally, the lifetime prevalence of physical and/or sexual partner violence among women ranges from 15-71 percent.
In the UK, the 2010/11 British Crime Survey reported that 27 percent of women and 17 percent of men had experienced partner abuse during their lifetime, with women experiencing more repeated and severe violence than men.
“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,” Howard concluded.
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, the study was published in PLoS ONE.
Source: King’s College London