Previous studies into the link between domestic violence and mental health problems have mainly focused on depression, but this is the first study to look at a wide range of mental health problems in both male and female victims.
In this study, researchers reviewed data from 41 studies worldwide. Compared to women without mental health problems, women with depressive disorders were around 2 and a ½ times more likely to have experienced domestic violence over their adult lifetime; women with anxiety disorders were over 3 and a ½ times more likely; and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were around 7 times more likely.
Women with other disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, common mental health problems, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were also at an increased risk of domestic violence compared to women without mental health problems. Men with all types of mental disorders were also at an increased risk of domestic violence. However, prevalence estimates for men were lower than those for women, indicating that it is less common for men to be victims of repeated severe domestic violence.
"In this study, we found that both men and women with mental health problems are at an increased risk of domestic violence. The evidence suggests that there are two things happening: domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence," said Professor Louise Howard, senior author of the study from King’s Institute of Psychiatry.
This study is part of PROVIDE, a 5-year research programme on domestic violence funded by NIHR.
The finding has been published in PLOS ONE.