In discussions about domestic violence, its causes, and its effects, mental health is often a part of the conversation. In observance of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Turning Point takes a closer look at how domestic violence and mental illness are intertwined.
It is not uncommon for mental illness to be brought up as a potential cause of abusive behavior, but the National Domestic Violence Hotline warns against lumping the two together. The article clarifies that “There are cases of individuals who have mental illness and are also abusive to their partners. There are also many individuals who have a mental illness and are healthy and supportive partners.” In order to determine whether abusive behavior is connected to mental illness, The Hotline encourages the victim to examine their partner’s behavior toward others. In most cases, if an abusive partner hides violent behavior from their friends, family, and coworkers, they are not mentally ill. If the abusive behavior is actually connected to a mental health issue, violent behaviors are more likely to affect multiple areas of the person’s life, not only their relationship.
Even if an abuser does suffer from a mental illness, it is never an excuse for violence. If an abusive partner suffers from a mental illness but does not recognize the harm they cause and makes no effort to manage their mental health, the violent behavior will continue and potentially worsen. In this situation, the victim should strongly consider their options for ending the relationship.
The effects of domestic violence on a victim are often long lasting and unfortunately, can include mental illness. According to a 2011 study by the CDC, the percentage of women with a history of domestic violence who considered their mental health to be poor was nearly three times higher than women who have not experienced domestic violence.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or someone living with a mental illness, remember that you are never alone and that there is always help. Many resources are available and willing to assist you in living a safe, happy and healthy life.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please reach out to any of the following resources. If you are in immediate danger, always call 911.
● Turning Point 24/7 Hotline: call (800) 232-6505
● Turning Point 24/7 Texting Service: text turningpoint, turning point, tphelp, or turning to 20121
● National Suicide Prevention 24/7 Lifeline: call (800) 273-8255
● SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline: call (877) 726-4727
Alexandra Kauser is a professional writing intern at Turning Point in Marion. Turning Point operates in six central Ohio counties, offering shelter, counseling, advocacy and general support to victims of domestic violence of any kind, including human trafficking.