Dundee Family Lawyer

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Mental health sufferers run increased risk of domestic violence

A recent study from Canada has found that women with a severe mental health-related disability are nearly four times more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence than those without a disability.

Researchers from Women’s College Hospital in Toronto found that women with a mental illness are at an increased risk of violence compared to women in the general population. Intimate partner violence, which includes physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse by a partner, is often recurrent and linked to negative physical and psychological consequences.

In the study, researchers examined a sample of 6,851 women who reported contact with a current or former partner in the previous five years and found:

  • Nearly 45% of women with severe mental health related disability reported experiencing discrimination in the previous five years, compared to 15% of women without any mental health related disability
  • More women with a severe mental health related disability reported lower levels of trust toward family, neighbors and people from work or school and a weaker sense of belonging to their community
  • More women living with severe daily activity limitations reported lower household incomes
  • Rates of all types of violence – emotional, financial, physical and/or sexual – were higher among women with both severe and moderate mental health disabilities.

“Our findings suggest that prevention and intervention activities may need to better target women with mental health disabilities, to help alleviate the suffering and negative impact of partner abuse,” said Janice Du Mont, the study’s lead author and scientist at Women’s College Research Institute.

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