The Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

depressed woman

15 Aug The Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

A recent study published in Depression and Anxiety examined the effects of domestic violence on women’s mental health in an effort to better understand how domestic violence affects women outside of physical injuries.

The study was published by a team of researchers the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London in England, the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (IUSMM), and the University of Montreal. According to first study author Isabelle Ouellet-Morin of IUSMM, researchers were focused on the impact of domestic violence on depression, as well as on “the role of certain factors from the victims’ personal history, such as childhood abuse and economic poverty.” For the study, researchers chose 1,052 mothers involved in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study and worked with them for a 10-year time span. Only women who had no previous history of depression were considered for the study. Over the course of the 10 years, researchers conducted multiple interviews to determine whether these women had been exposed to domestic violence from their spouses (e.g. being pushed or struck with an object). The researchers also sought to ascertain whether these women suffered from mental health disorders.

The results were surprising. More than one-third of women reported suffering from violence from their spouses. These women tended to exhibit an extensive history of childhood abuse, economic poverty, substance abuse, early pregnancy, or antisocial personality. These women were also twice as likely to suffer from depression, even when controlling for the effects of childhood abuse. The domestic violence didn’t just influence mood, either; it also contributed to a three times higher risk of developing schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms. Researcher Louise Arseneault of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London had this to say about domestic violence after concluding the study: “Domestic violence is unacceptable because of the injuries it causes. We have shown that these injuries are not only physical: they can also be psychological, as they increase the risk of depression and psychotic symptoms.”

This poses a vital question for those who are providing behavioral healthcare to women, and many women who are receiving treatment for mental health disorders might also be victims of domestic violence or childhood abuse.

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