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Mental health compounds domestic abuse

thinking of her mental health

Victims of domestic abuse suffer doubly. Not only do they suffer physical injury at the hands of their spouse or intimate partner, but they also suffer higher incidences of mental health disorders. This is according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The research is based on data culled from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey which got responses from 3.5 million Californians. More than half a million people who had suffered intimate partner violence (IPV) said they also experienced “significant psychological distress” including anxiety and depression. This was triple the amount of distress for the unaffected population.

“Violence does double damage to a victim, leaving both a physical and emotional scar,” said the study’s lead author, Elaine Zahnd, a sociologist and senior research scientist at the Public Health Institute, which worked with UCLA on the survey. “Policymakers and care providers need to ensure that support services and screenings are available to victims even weeks or months after an attack.”

Women were twice as likely as men to suffer from IPV. Almost half of all IPV victims said their abuser appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during the attack. Nearly a third of the victims subsequently said they had developed problems with alcohol and drugs themselves, often binge drinking.

“The study shows that our response to violence as a society must be many-faceted and California’s domestic violence service providers are able to offer an array of services to survivors of IPV,,” said Peter Long, PhD, president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation. “But first of all we must all work harder to prevent violence from occurring in the first place.”

Source: UCLA, ScienceDaily

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