A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Violence against women and mental health

a) Male abuse and violence against women
b) Mental health and mental illness

These are big topics which intersect in complex ways.

Violence against women and mental health is a research paper that examines the way that mental health intersects with trauma, complex trauma, disability, coercive control, access to justice and parenting. The paper is produced by ANROWS — Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

I don’t often share research papers on this website. I’m sharing this one in the hope that it may help some of our readers, especially the professionals who follow this blog but seldom or never comment.

The purpose of the paper

To effectively meet the needs of women at the intersection of gender-based violence and mental health impacts, improved collaboration and coordination is required across mental health, sexual violence, domestic and family violence, justice and child protection sectors.

This synthesis is designed for policymakers and practitioners engaging with women affected by violence, including domestic violence and sexual violence, who are also experiencing mental health impacts; and/ or who are developing policy and practice frameworks responsive to violence against women and mental health.
from the blurb at the ANROWS website.

The key points

  • For women experiencing violence, mental health problems can overlap with trauma, complex trauma and disability, making simple diagnoses and treatment difficult.
  • Mental ill health can be a compounding factor, a barrier, an outcome and a tool used by perpetrators of violence against women.
  • Access to justice can be impacted at the intersection of mental health and violence against women, because the criminal justice system is not designed to accommodate trauma.
  • Women with mental health concerns who have been subjected to gender-based violence can be harmed by institutions tasked with helping them.
  • The co-occurrence of violence against women and mental health concerns can have parenting impacts, damaging the mother–child relationship and impacting the child’s mental health.
  • The complexity of the intersection of violence against women and mental health often requires collaboration between mental health, sexual violence, domestic and family violence and other sectors to provide effective care.
    — from the blurb at the ANROWS website.

Do any of those key points ring bells for you, dear readers?

For me, what jumped out most was the part I’ve put in italics from the second point:

  • Mental ill health can be a compounding factor, a barrier, an outcome and a tool used by perpetrators of violence against women.

Abusers can indeed use mental ill health as a tool with which to perpetrate abuse.

For example, an abuser can excuse his abusive behaviours by asserting that they are uncontrollable symptoms of his mental illness.

Another example is when an abuser claims his partner is mentally ill when she is not; rather, she is prudently and judiciously resisting his abuse.

Another example is when an abuser gets his target sectioned (involuntarily admitted) into a psych ward.

 

12 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post “For me, what jumped out most…”

    …..was the frequent use of the phrase “mental health”.

    I am interested in WHO is using the phrase “mental health”, as they may / may not have a hidden agenda.

    And I am interested in whether the phrase “mental health” is being defined as mental health or “mental health”, as the definition may / may not indicate a hidden agenda.

    • James

      Such a good point, Finding Answers.

      War gets sanitized enough by politicians, media and academics but no one would dare call it an “health issue”.

      Violence causes injuries. Injuries have external causes and are often crimes against the injured.

      Describing a broken leg as an “health issue” or the “sick person’s” reaction to getting struck by a car is nonsensical. Studying the “co-occurance” (the authors’ word) of broken bones with auto collisions is to misrepresent the issue.

      I suspect the authors (because it is so widespread) are oblivious to how they had their world view shaped for them (and passing it on). The problem is much likely deeper.

      • James

        In terms of Family Court and “mental health”, what some are asked to swallow is equivalent to –
        “Your Honour, I should have custody of the children and not my ex wife because she is disabled with a broken arm and a black eye she can’t see out of (which I caused)”

      • Bingo James! So well said. 🙂

    • Thank you Finding Answers for raising this issue. And thank you James for carrying it further.

    • Finding Answers

      Since I wrote my comment of 30TH JULY 2020 – 1:29 PM, I’ve been turning over MANY thoughts in my mind.

      Adding on to ^That comment of mine, and intentionally omitting details / detailed explanations for the safety and protection of myself / others.

      For me, I have been / am curious about what makes people tick.

      When I think about the phrase “mental health”, I include the individual(s) / the era (which is often given a label or name) / culture / race / part of the world / religion / etc..

      For me (and perhaps for others?), ^Those considerations reflect how folks A) define / “define” themselves, B) how they want to define / “define” others, C) how they want to be defined / be “defined by” others, or D) any or all of A, B, C.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    I have been fortunate to access the topic of trauma on a few podcasts, recently. Epigenetics is a rather new word that is connected to action in our DNA. Trauma is perhaps able to be transmitted to future generations.

    For me, I am able to read my great grandmother’s diary. I can emotionally feel her words because 1) she divorced when her children were very young, for very good reasons 2) I recognize the effects of her marriage on her life, which come out of fragmentation due to trauma. It helps me understand (with disapproval) her son, my grandfather. It helps me understand (with compassion) my mother and her identical twin sister.

    It helps me see a much greater picture of my fragmentation due to a long term abusive marriage. It helps me see the disconnect with adults who should have been able to help me after severe abuse at a very young age. This same fragmentation would have been an enormous barrier to initiating my divorce or being able to live life freely now without ongoing assistance from a neuropsychologist.

    • Thank you Seeing Clearly. How wonderful that your great grandmother’s diary is giving you so many insights into other members of your family… and the impacts on your own life. I am sorry I can’t write a more compassionate / thoughtful reply to your comment. I’m down in the doldrums myself, on things related to the revision of my book. I’ve chosen to ask for opinions from a few theologians, and their responses have hurt me and triggered a lot of the pain I went through in writing the first edition of my book. The pain comes from them disrespecting me.

      • However, I will say that one pastor-theologian has given me some very helpful info on the translation of Malachi 2:16.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Barbara, my heart is with you. When there is passion to make a way for the downtrodden to stand tall, yet the strong refuse to kneel and help to lift them up……
        I think you have experienced this smothering of your passion many times. When I have been disrespected, it burns within being devalued. Please, hold fast.

        I am always grateful for you. I continue to encounter women who are seeking encouragement and guidance. I am more equipped to walk beside them because of your impact on my life.

      • Thanks, Seeing Clearly.

        I hope you don’t mind, but I removed the links you gave in your comment.

        Our Publishing Policy includes this advice:

        If you have a resource to recommend (e.g. a book, link, or video) we ask you submit the recommendation to Barbara Roberts.

        If you submit a comment recommending a resource, your comment is likely to be held in moderation for some time. Due to time constraints, the ACFJ team may not be able to check out the resource you have recommended. We are hesitant to recommend any resource that we have not checked out. We may publish such a comment after editing out the suggested resource, or we may not publish it at all.

  3. Finding Answers

    In my comment of 1ST AUGUST 2020 – 4:58 PM, I wrote: “….how folks A) define / “define” themselves, B) how they want to define / “define” others, C) how they want to be defined / be “defined by” others, or D) any or all of A, B, C.”

    ^That.

    James commented (30TH JULY 2020 – 6:47 PM) “I suspect the authors (because it is so widespread) are oblivious to how they had their world view shaped for them….”

    ^That frequently leads to discussions / “discussions” about nature versus nurture versus the current knowledge / “knowledge” / understanding / “understanding” / beliefs / “beliefs” / etc. / “etc.” of a particular time.

    From the original post “….health problems can overlap with trauma, complex trauma and disability, making simple diagnoses and treatment difficult.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “….improved collaboration and coordination is required….”

    ^That.

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