Women with mental health disability may face four-fold risk of abusive relationship

January 30, 2014

Women with a severe mental health-related disability are nearly four times more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence than those without a disability, according to a new study by Women's College Hospital researcher Janice Du Mont and co-author Tonia Forte.

The study, published in the journal BioMed Central Public Health, is the first Canadian population-based study to examine the prevalence of intimate partner violence among with activity limitations – or disability – with a specific focus on those due to -related problems.

"Our study suggests that women whose daily activities were limited by a psychological, emotional or mental health condition may be especially vulnerable to being victimized," said Du Mont, the study's lead author and scientist at Women's College Research Institute. "What's more, we found that the more severe the mental health related disability, the higher the prevalence of ."

Research shows women with a mental illness are at an increased risk of violence compared to women in the general population. Intimate partner violence, which includes physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse by a partner, is often recurrent and linked to negative physical and psychological consequences.

"For women with a mental health-related disability, the consequences of experiencing discrimination can be devastating," said Du Mont. "It may lead to social isolation and put these women at greater risk for harmful or abusive relationships, discouraging them from seeking help from their abusive relationship and their mental health problems."

In the study, researchers examined a sample of 6,851 women who reported contact with a current or former partner in the previous five years and found:

  • Nearly 45 per cent of women with severe mental health related disability reported experiencing discrimination in the previous five years, compared to 15 per cent of women without any mental health related disability
  • More women with a severe mental health related disability reported lower levels of trust toward family, neighbors and people from work or school and a weaker sense of belonging to their community
  • More women living with severe daily activity limitations reported lower household incomes
  • Rates of all types of violence – emotional, financial, physical and/or sexual – were higher among women with both severe and moderate mental health disabilities.

"Our findings suggest that prevention and intervention activities may need to better target women with mental health disabilities, to help alleviate the suffering and negative impact of partner abuse," said Du Mont.

Explore further: Link found between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy

Related Stories

Link found between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy

January 7, 2014
Intimate partner violence in women (sometimes referred to as domestic violence) is linked to termination of pregnancy, according to a study by UK researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine. The study, led by Susan ...

Depression a key link between intimate partner violence and food insecurity

October 25, 2013
Women who experience physical, mental or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners have an increased likelihood of being food insecure. That's according to a new study out of the University of Houston Texas Obesity Research ...

Suicide linked to partner violence for New Zealand women

November 1, 2013
New Zealand women who have experienced partner violence are more likely to contemplate suicide, according to New Zealand findings published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health last week.

Study: People with mental disorders more likely to have experienced domestic violence

December 26, 2012
Men and women with mental health disorders, across all diagnoses, are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than the general population, according to new research from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, ...

Link between intimate partner violence and depression

May 7, 2013
Not only are women who have experienced violence from their partner (intimate partner violence) at higher risk of becoming depressed, but women who are depressed may also be at increased risk of experiencing intimate partner ...

Men with disabilities 4 times more likely to be sexually abused than men without disabilities

October 11, 2011
Previous studies have documented that women with disabilities are more likely to be sexually assaulted than women without disabilities. A new study published online today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine is ...

Recommended for you

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

The environmental injustice of beauty

August 16, 2017
Women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, according to a commentary published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors say ...

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers' children

August 15, 2017
Elemental sulfur, the most heavily used pesticide in California, may harm the respiratory health of children living near farms that use the pesticide, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

August 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you want to stay as fit as possible well into your 80s, the answer may be as simple as standing on your own two feet.

Binge-watching 'The Walking Dead?' You might feel like a zombie yourself

August 14, 2017
Binge-watching is a great way for young adults to catch up on multiple episodes of their favorite television series like "The Walking Dead" or "Game of Thrones," but it comes at a price.

Bugs on the menu at Swiss supermarket

August 14, 2017
Switzerland's first insect-based food aimed at humans will go on sale next week following a revision of the country's food safety laws, a supermarket chain said Monday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.