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Witnessing parental domestic violence in childhood linked to mental illness in adulthood

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A new study from the University of Toronto found that one in five (22.5%) of adults who experience domestic violence by their parents during adolescence experience significant depression at some point in their lives. This is higher than the 9.1% of those who do not have a history of parental domestic violence.

“Our research highlights the potential for serious long-term consequences of domestic violence for children, even when children themselves are not being abused,” says author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Director of the Center for Life and Aging at the University of Toronto. of Toronto and Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW). “Social workers and health experts “Action must be taken to prevent domestic violence and to support all survivors of this abuse and their children.”

Parent domestic violence (PDV) often occurs in the context of other disasters, including physical and emotional traumatic events in children. sexual abuseit makes it a challenge to explore effects on mental health associated with parental violence only in child abuse. To address this problem, the authors excluded anyone in their study who had experienced physical or sexual abuse. The national survey representative sample finally included 17,739 respondents from the Canadian Public Health Survey, 326 of whom reported experiencing PDV more than 10 times before age 16, which was defined in the status of ‘regular PDV’.

One in six adults (15.2%) who experienced chronic PDV reported that they later developed dementia. Only 7.1% of those who did not experience parental violence and reported experiencing anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

“Many children experiencing domestic violence by their parents remain vigilant and in a state of permanent anxiety, fearing that any violence could turn into an attack. Therefore, it is not surprising that the age of much later, when they are adults, those with a history of PDV have something of a staggering content, says author Deirdre Ryan-Morissette, a recent graduate of Social Work from the University of Toronto’s FIFSW.

More than a quarter of adults (26.8%) who were exposed to routine PDV in adolescence developed misuse of intoxicantscompared with 19.2% of those without exposing this initial disaster.

However, the findings are not all negative. More than three in five adults who survived chronic PDV were in stable condition mental healthFreedom from any mental illness, dependence or suicidal thoughts in the last year; they were happy and / or satisfied with their lives and reported high levels of social and emotional well-being, despite being exposed to such experiences as adolescents. Although the prevalence of mental illness was lower among those exposed to routine PDV compared with those whose parents were less violent with each other (62.5% vs 76.1%), it was still significantly higher than in the authors. they thought.

“We are encouraged to find out that most adults have overcome their exposure to this initial traumatic event and are unwell and unwell,” said author Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, Professor at Paul Baerwald Hebrew University. School of Social Work and Social Welfare. “Our research shows that social support it is an important issue. Among those experiencing PDV, those with additional social support have the highest risk of being in good mental health. “

The study is limited by several factors. The Canadian Public Health Survey does not include sensitive information about PDV such as age, respondent relationship with perpetrator, or severity of violence. The analysis is based on data collected at the same time; would have preferred to have vertical rather than cross data.

“Our research shows the need for more research on what to do next mental illnessdrug abuse, and isolation from the public among those exposed to PDV, with the goal of having a higher proportion of those affected by childhood trauma to achieve better mental health, ”Fuller-Thomson said.


There is a link between seeing parental violence at an early age and suicide attempts


Learn more:
Esme Fuller-Thomson et al, Achieving Better Mental Health Despite the Fall of Long-Term Parental Violence: What Are the Associations with Adolescence? Family Crisis Journal (2022). DOI: 10.1007 / s10896-022-00390-w

Its formation
University of Toronto

hint: Aware of parental violence in children associated with mental illness during adulthood (2022, April 20) Retrieved 20 April 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-04-witnessing-parental- domestic-violence-childhood.html

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