Domestic abuse and mental health spotlight

Resources and guidance to help professionals support victims and survivors of domestic abuse who have mental health needs – part of our 2016–2019 Spotlights series that shone a light on the hidden victims of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can have a severe and long-lasting impact on mental health and survivors often find it difficult to access the support they need. Victims and survivors with mental ill health are also more likely to have other complex needs. We must see the whole picture for every victim, survivor and family so that everyone can be free to live the lives they want to live.

In the seventh of our Spotlights series, in 2019, we focused on the stories and experiences of victims and survivors of domestic abuse who experience mental health difficulties. We partnered on this Spotlight with AVA – Against Violence and Abuse – a leading UK charity committed to ending gender-based violence and abuse.

About SafeLives’ Spotlights series

Our 2016–2019 Spotlights series shone a light on hidden victims of domestic abuse. We explored the experiences of victim groups who face additional barriers to accessing support, and can feel ‘hidden’ from services. Discover insight from survivors, practitioners, academics and other experts, alongside our own research and data.

This is the form of abuse that still haunts me to this day, almost twenty years later. It has impacted my long-term mental health, ability to trust people and have healthy relationships. I was a teenager then and my experience of being gaslighted, manipulated, controlled and emotionally beaten down destroyed me

Survivor and respondent to Psychological Violence survey

I was having constant obsessive suicidal thoughts... I got to a point where I didn't think I could cope anymore and I didn't understand why it was happening when I had been so stable for so long.

Kathryn, survivor

Facts and figures

  • Facts and figures

    of victims of domestic abuse with mental health needs visited their GP before accessing support

  • Facts and figures

    22% had visited A&E

  • Facts and figures

    of victims with mental health needs identified as LGBT+

  • Facts and figures

    of victims with mental health needs had problems with drug misuse

  • Facts and figures

    had alcohol misuse problems

  • Facts and figures

    of victims with mental health needs were struggling to pay for essentials or could pay for essentials with nothing left

Safe and Well

Read the full findings in our Safe and Well spotlight report.

Read the report

Resources and guidance

Blogs and podcasts

Domestic abuse: How can Community Mental Health Nurses respond

Women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse generally have poorer health than other women. Health issues include chronic problems with digestion, kidney and bladder function and headaches, poorer pregnancy outcomes, lower birthweight babies, eating disorders and substance misuse.

Young people, domestic abuse and mental health

One in five children have been exposed to domestic abuse. SafeLives estimates that around 130,000 children in the UK live in households with high-risk domestic abuse; that is, where there is a significant risk of harm or death

LGBT+ survivors and mental health

Central to the LGBT+ Spotlight was the troubling finding that victims of domestic abuse who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT+) are more likely to experience mental ill health.

Listen: Experiences of domestic abuse and mental health

Listen: Shared Lives: innovative housing options for survivors with mental ill health

Listen: What research can tell us about mental health and domestic abuse

More podcast episodes

You can listen to more podcast episodes about domestic abuse and mental health on Soundcloud:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletters about the latest training, events, research and fundraising initiatives at SafeLives. Together, we can end domestic abuse, for everyone, for good.

Sign up