A significant minority of mothers live daily lives, separated from their children and I am one of them. I have become very aware that my story although a nightmare is not unique...

Friday, 17 February 2017

The link between domestic violence and mental health

There is an established link between mental health problems and domestic violence . The most common disorders are depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.  Self harm and attempted suicide are also far more prevalent, than in the general population.

 In a study published in the British Medical Journal, Bradley et al (2002) found that experience of domestic violence was associated with much higher levels of depression than was found among women who had not experienced domestic violence. Among women who were depressed, 67% had experienced domestic violence as compared with 33% who had not. This finding means that two thirds of women with depression have experienced domestic violence. Should this mean that woman and men presenting at the GP with symptoms of depression be screened for domestic violence?

Breslau et al (1998) investigated the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder following trauma in a sample of the general population and found that those who had suffered rape and other violence had greatly increased rates of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). They found that 49% of those subject to rape suffered PTSD; 54% of those who were held captive, tortured or kidnapped; 15% of those who were shot or stabbed; 24% of those who suffered sexual assault other than rape; 8% of those who were threatened with a weapon; and 32% of those who were badly beaten up. This compares with 2% of those in a serious car crash. Women were more twice as likely as men to suffer PTSD following a trauma. Why wouldn't they?

Yet women are not believed about by abuse by some police officers and other agencies because the abuser plays the mental health card.When I was growing up, women supposedly had nerves, if they were unhappy or anxious. They were seen as stupid rather than stressed or possibly beaten. Not that much has changed, when some now report domestic violence, despite it being discrimination to refuse  a service to a person on the grounds of mental illness.

 Time and again I have seen in family cases domestic violence victims being labelled with serious mental illness , often having their children placed elsewhere I have never seen this labelled as PTSD, which of course is treatable. This further puts children at risk of abuse, if they are placed with the perpetrator of the mother's abuse. I do wonder if judicial training actually recognises the symptoms of PTSD, let alone understands it.        

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