Overview of the Issue: Why Mental Health Providers Need to Know About Domestic Violence
There are many reasons why you, as a mental health professional, need to understand domestic violence:
- You may be the first one a victim contacts for help.
- You are in a position to help her access other needed services – and collaborating with domestic violence service providers can make your work more effective.
- Common mental health problems – including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidality, anxiety and addictions – are often caused or exacerbated by domestic violence, and effects of abuse may resemble those of mental illness.
- Abuse-related mental health symptoms often decrease when victims are helped to gain safety.
- Effects of domestic violence make it harder to work on other issues.
- A partner’s controlling and violent behavior can stop the client from making use of treatment or medications.
- A victim who has a pre-existing or unrelated mental illness may find it harder to:
- Connect with sources of support.
- Get others to take seriously what she says about her partner.
- Make and use safety plans.
- Access services.
- Find safe housing and stable employment.