This paper provides a synthesis of evidence on violence against women and mental health, examining the way that mental health intersects with trauma, complex trauma, disability, coercive control, access to justice and parenting. This paper is not intended to be a comprehensive literature review—it focuses on existing ANROWS research and other research, while also drawing on recent grey literature for further supporting evidence.
This synthesis is designed for policymakers and practitioners engaging with women affected by violence, including domestic violence and sexual violence, who are also experiencing mental health impacts; and/ or who are developing policy and practice frameworks responsive to violence against women and mental health.
- For women experiencing violence, mental health problems can overlap with trauma, complex trauma and disability, making simple diagnoses and treatment difficult.
- Mental ill health can be a compounding factor, a barrier, an outcome and a tool used by perpetrators of violence against women.
- Access to justice can be impacted at the intersection of mental health and violence against women, because the criminal justice system is not designed to accommodate trauma.
- Women with mental health concerns who have been subjected to gender-based violence can be harmed by institutions tasked with helping them.
- The co-occurrence of violence against women and mental health concerns can have parenting impacts, damaging the mother–child relationship and impacting the child’s mental health.
- The complexity of the intersection of violence against women and mental health often requires collaboration between mental health, sexual violence, domestic and family violence and other sectors to provide effective care.