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Study shows mentally ill adults more likely to be victims of domestic violence

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In a recent study published in the Feb 2014 American Journal of Public Health, researchers conclude that mentally ill adults are more often victims of violence in a residential setting as opposed to inflicting violence upon their community.

Because we so often hear reports of violent acts being committed by mentally ill adults, researches wanted to look at the possibility of the perpetrators being victims themselves.

Work on the study was done by researchers at North Carolina State University; RTI International; the University of California, Davis; Simon Fraser University; and Duke University. In a newsroom release, NC State University shares the findings of the study.

The group of researchers pooled the results of 5 studies including 4480 adults diagnosed with a mental illness from across the United States over a 15 year period. Their findings showed that 23.9 percent of the people committed violent acts within a residential setting within the previous 6 months and only 2.6 percent were committed in a public/community setting. They also found that over 30 percent of the adults had been victims of domestic violence themselves. And they found that participants who had been victims of violence were 11 times more likely to commit violence

According to the NC State University news release:

Researcher Dr. Sarah Demarais says, “This highlights the need for more robust public health interventions that are focused on violence. It shouldn’t just be about preventing adults with mental illness from committing violent acts, it should also be about protecting those at risk of being victimized."

These results show us that quite often mentally ill adults are more likely to be the victim of domestic violence over being perpetrators of violence in public within their community. And yet, victims are at high risk of being perpetrators themselves.

Researchers concluded there is a critical need for public health interventions designed to reduce violence in this vulnerable population.

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