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  • Courtney S.

Domestic Violence & Mental Health

Experiencing domestic violence can have a profound effect on a survivor’s mental health, sometimes resulting in acute or chronic mental illness. The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health reports that experiencing intimate partner violence significantly increases the likelihood of developing mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attempted suicide. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are sharing information about connections between mental health and domestic violence.

Survivors with mental health disorders experience many of the same abusive behaviors as survivors without. However, survivors with mental health disorders report experiencing abuse that targets their mental health. The National Domestic Violence Hotline surveyed 2,741 callers to poll the commonality of these tactics and found:

  • 86% reported being called “crazy” or accused of being “crazy”

  • 74% reported a partner purposefully doing things to make them feel “crazy” or like they were losing their mind, such as gaslighting

  • 50% reported a partner threatening to instill doubt in their word and/or present them as unfit to the legal system, influencing child custody agreements or the provision of protective orders

  • 54% had accessed professional support (counselor, social worker, therapist, doctor) for feelings of upset or depression

  • 50% of those people said their partner had discouraged or prevented them from seeking help or taking their medications

A partner may also target mental health by:

· Dismissing feelings, like eye-rolling or smirking when a survivor shares their feelings

· Intentionally triggering a reaction

· Encouraging self-isolating behaviors

· Denying emotional support

Experiencing domestic violence, whether the abuse is directed at preexisting mental health disorders or not, can have lasting impacts on mental well-being. To meet this need, Sojourner offers support groups, individual therapy, and referrals to community resources as needed. Our advocates also provide emotional support to survivors while they make plans for safety and stability. To learn more about how mental health is impacted by domestic violence, visit the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health. Information about supporting loved ones with mental health disorders can be found through the National Alliance on Mental Illness.


Everyone deserves to be safe and live free from fear, and free and confidential services are available at Sojourner Project. To learn more, call our 24/7 crisis line: 952-933-7422.

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