Services inadequate for survivors of intimate partner violence


While it is not uncommon for abused women to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, these women are not receiving the mental health services they need, according to a University of Missouri researcher.

“More than half of the women participating in our study suffered from depression, PTSD or both illnesses,” explained Mansoo Yu, assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “However, most of the survivors had not used mental health services in the past year, even though they reported having access to the services. Social stigmas, shame, privacy concerns, health care costs and lack of information may prevent survivors from getting the help they need.”

Women unable to find help or skeptical of services

Yu studied the rates of PTSD, depression and substance abuse among 50 female intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors and the types of services the women used. The majority did not use any services but reported visiting their primary health care provider.

The women reported having trouble getting housing, legal services, crisis lines and medical care. Women reported that it was difficult to leave the relationship when alternate housing and legal services were difficult to find. They were also skeptical of law enforcement.

Doctors in a unique position to help

“Medical professionals are uniquely positioned to screen for mental health problems, such as PTSD, depression and substance abuse disorders among IPV survivors and make appropriate referrals to other agencies or providers for treatment,” Yu noted. “Health providers play a critical role in intervening in the women’s lives and potentially helping them end the abuse.”

Women who do use services find them helpful

Yu explained that while the overall percentage of service utilization is low, for those women who do utilize services, there is a benefit.

“Abuse causes harm, and service providers and health professionals should strive to end abuse and the mental suffering that lingers in its wake by connecting survivors with services,” he explained.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Missouri-Columbia


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