The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse recently prepared a brief where they pointed out the data from studies that show that domestic violence has an impact on the mental health of the victims involved and can result in long term negative consequences for the victim of domestic violence.
According to statistics, out of a sample of 1218 Australian women who were victims of gender-based violence, they were more likely to experience mental issue than non-victims with those women that had faced the highest level of violence at the highest end of the spectrum. Anxiety disorders were the most likely in this group of women at 77% as well as a much higher instance of suicide attempts at 35%. For mood disorder, substance abuse and PTSD, these issues occurred in about 50% of the women in the sample.
Women who experience abuse from a partner are also more likely to experience depression, PTSD or anxiety issues. Women who also experienced rape by an intimate partner or other physical violence was also more likely to experience PTSD and among males that have experienced physical violence about 16% were reported to have PTSD.
Women who also faced sexual violence from a partner in addition to physical violence also had the highest rates of mental illness in the group. The mental health problems were maintain focused around depression as well as severe PTSD. These women also reported a decreased sense of positive body image as well as lowered self esteem.
Some of the mental health impacts of domestic violence include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and the propensity to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. In addition, the brief points out that health care professionals need to be aware of these negative impacts in order to properly assist victims and provide the best care possible.
The mental health professional also needs to be aware that children are also very likely to be negatively impacted by the issues of domestic violence and their healthcare issues need to be taken into account as they are also very likely to suffer from anxiety disorders and PTSD. The other effects can include depression from being exposed to violence within their homes or made victims of the violence by witnessing violence occur to other members of the household.
These mental health issues can also mean that aside from general counselling in response to the mental health issues, the victims may also need to have the mental health issues addressed separately via specialised services for victims. The health services also need to be aware that victims might be negatively impacted if the mental health issues are not addressed and that they could be in fact damaged more by the healthcare response that they are receiving if the healthcare professionals are not aware that the victim is suffering from these issues.
The brief also calls for a refocus on the prevention of domestic violence with an intimate partner in order to decrease mental health issues in the general population overall.