“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”Aisha Mirza
How can domestic violence victims receive better help to cope with mental health issues?
Domestic violence is defined as the violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. It can affect anyone of any age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Abuse often leaves physical marks, including bruises and broken bones. Abuse victims can also suffer both short and long-term emotional and psychological effects.
In a study conducted by the National Institute for Health Research, researchers found that compared to women with no mental health disorders, measured over their adult life, women with depressive disorders were around 2.5 times more likely to have been victims of domestic violence.
This statistic emphasizes the impact of domestic violence on the mental health of victims.
Mental Trauma Resulting From Domestic Violence
Panic attacks, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression and anxiety are often ignited by domestic violence. In addition, children who have experienced domestic violence are at risk for developmental delays, psychiatric disorders, school difficulties, aggressive behavior, and low self-esteem. These mental health issues can have a significant impact on the future of both adults and children.
Senior author Louise Howard, a professor at King’s Institute of Psychiatry says that “. . . domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.” Living with severe mental health problems can increase the vulnerability of a person being abused. If domestic violence victims do not receive adequate help to cope with their mental health issues, they may face difficulties escaping this violence in the future.
Call For Action
Although some domestic violence shelters, including Genesis Women’s Shelter, provide mental health therapy to their residents, not all shelter do this. Even one session with a therapist or counselor can help better the mental health of victims. In order to potentially better this issue, all abuse shelters should hire a therapist or counselor and require residents to meet with them every so often. Many victims do not realize the mental health issues they may have developed, so requiring these sessions will ensure that every victim receives the help they need. Shelters should also educate their residents on the impact of domestic violence on mental health, and the possible issues they may be facing with or without being aware of them. A possible way of doing this is to invite an expert on this matter to educate the victims on ways to deal with their mental health problems. Whether the victim is staying at the shelter for a short or long period of time, educating them and allowing them to talk to a therapist can be beneficial to their health. Since this is a large issue and prevalent globally, I plan on focusing on local domestic violence shelters in Dallas, Texas.
How Will You Get Involved?
Even though this response is intended to directly help the mental health of domestic violence victims staying in shelters, we should also raise awareness to those who are experiencing domestic violence but do not live in shelters. Not everyone who has experienced domestic violence has access to ways to cope such as therapists and counselors. Since there is not a method to guarantee that current victims are receiving the help they need at home, educating others can be helpful. We can all have a role in this by reaching out to people who we may think are experiencing domestic violence and by trying to get them help. Raising awareness about the significant impact of abuse on victims’ mental health can help those in danger.
In addition to helping by raising awareness, another way to help is to fund my non-profit organization, CARE. CARE stands for “Cease abuse, raise equality.” My sister and I started this organization in 2018 to help victims of domestic violence. We used some of the money we collected to buy some presents and necessities for the women and children living at Emily’s Place, a local long-term transitional home in Plano, Texas. They provide housing, training, and education to allow for a stable future. If you are interested in further helping domestic violence victims, here is the link to our website: www.careforabuse.com
Survey for Feedback and Further Research
Please fill out this survey if you feel comfortable anonymously sharing your experiences with domestic violence to further fuel my project. Also, please let me know if you have any suggestions to improve my response to this issue! Here is the link to the survey: https://forms.gle/HAXS4sTt7qmdsVf46
Please leave a comment for any feedback or suggestions about my project!