Stress-ing the importance of help

We are in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May). Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the theme is stress.

Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this. For those affected by domestic abuse, stress is very much a part of everyday life.

Domestic abuse can have an enormous effect on your mental health.

It is now well accepted that abuse (both in childhood and in adult life) is often the main factor in the development of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

What makes life even more difficult for those suffering domestic abuse is that perpetrators often use accusations about their mental health as part of the abuse.

Typical accusations can include:

  • Saying you couldn’t cope without him
  • Saying you’re “mad”
  • Speaking for you: “You know you get confused/you’re not very confident/you don’t understand the issues”
  • Telling you you’re a bad mother and cannot look after the children properly
  • Threatening to take the children away
  • Threatening to “tell Social Services” you have mental health issues – the implication being they will take the children away
  • Undermining you when you disclose the abuse or ask for help: “You can’t believe her – she’s mad”

Such behaviour will put you under even more stress and make any existing mental health issues worse.

If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you will be in a particularly vulnerable position, and are likely to find it even harder to report domestic violence than other women.

What you must remember is that you are entitled to help as much as any other abused woman, and if you have additional support needs, you should get help with them too.

As a starting point, you can talk to an organisation like Broxtowe’s Women’s Project (BWP). We are not qualified mental health practitioners, but we can refer you to organisations that can provide support and we can offer support with this and other issues along the way.

It’s #timetotalk #notalone

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