Domestic abuse: identifying and responding to victims and perpetrators

Dr Vishal Bhavsar, Dr Marilia Calcia, Dr Philippa Greenfield and Professor Louise M. Howard

60 minutes


November 2023

Learning module

CPD domain:
Clinical, Professional

Domestic violence and abuse.jpg

Domestic abuse is a prevalent and costly public health problem which negatively impacts mental and physical health, and drives primary and secondary health service use for mental health conditions in people exposed to domestic abuse as victims.

Domestic abuse is relevant for psychiatrists because :

  • exposure to domestic abuse as a victim is associated with experiencing a range of psychiatric conditions
  • it is more common in women and men in contact with secondary care compared with the general population
  • it can exacerbate pre-existing symptomatology, e.g. suicidal ideation (Khalifeh et al, 2015a).

There is also evidence that domestic abuse perpetration is more common among people using healthcare for psychiatric conditions compared to the general population.

This module will improve your knowledge of the relationship between domestic abuse and mental health, and will enable you to identify and safely respond to those at risk. The module will include information on:

  • risk factors for being exposed to domestic abuse and perpetrating domestic abuse
  • the prevalence of victims and perpetrators among people with mental disorders
  • recommendations made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on how mental health professionals should identify and respond to domestic abuse
  • multi-agency responsibilities, including adult safeguarding, multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC), multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) and domestic homicide reviews.



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