People diagnosed with any kind of mental illness are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, says a new study.
Previous research on domestic violence and mental illness had focused mainly on depression. However, a new research review based on data from over 41 studies says that people with any kind of mental disorder are just as likely to be domestically abused and that men are at the same level of risk as women.
Women with post-traumatic stress disorder are at about 7 times greater risk of being abused than the general population, while the risk of facing domestic violence for women suffering from depression is 2 and half times greater than women who have no mental disorder.
Similarly women with anxiety disorders, eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder were all at higher risk of being a target for domestic abuse. Researchers found that men who had mental illness were also more likely to be abused by their partners, although the prevalence of the abuse was still lower than what was faced by women with the same disorders.
"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.
"Mental health professionals need to be aware of the link between domestic violence and mental health problems, and ensure that their patients are safe from domestic violence and are treated for the mental health impact of such abuse," concluded Howard.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
A related study conducted by World Health Organization found that women who are abused by their partners are "twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental problems, even if the violence occurred years before."
According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., about 12 million people, both men and women, are victims of domestic violence.