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Mental Disability Puts Women At Quadruple Risk of Partner Abuse

Update Date: Jan 30, 2014 07:29 PM EST

Having a mental health disability may quadruple a woman's risk of being abused by a partner, according to a new study.

The latest study reveals that women with a severe mental health-related disability are nearly four times more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence than those without a disability.

"Our study suggests that women whose daily activities were limited by a psychological, emotional or mental health condition may be especially vulnerable to being victimized," lead researcher Janice Du Mont of the Women's College Hospital said in a news release.

"What's more, we found that the more severe the mental health related disability, the higher the prevalence of intimate partner violence," said Du Mont.

Researchers said that intimate partner violence or domestic violence, which includes physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse by a partner, is often associated with negative physical and psychological consequences.

"For women with a mental health-related disability, the consequences of experiencing discrimination can be devastating," said Du Mont. "It may lead to social isolation and put these women at greater risk for harmful or abusive relationships, discouraging them from seeking help from their abusive relationship and their mental health problems."

The study, which involved 6,851 women, showed that nearly 45 percent of women with severe mental health related disability reported experiencing discrimination in the previous five years, compared to 15 per cent of women without any mental health related disability.

"Our findings suggest that prevention and intervention activities may need to better target women with mental health disabilities, to help alleviate the suffering and negative impact of partner abuse," concluded Du Mont.

The findings are published in the journal BioMed Central Public Health.

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