The United States still has a lot of work to do in regard to addressing the prevalence of domestic violence.
In fact, an in-depth story from the Arizona Republic has pointed to the fact that in the last several years, the number of deaths from domestic violence has stayed fairly consistent in Arizona.
While this means there hasn’t really been an increase in deaths, there certainly hasn’t been a decrease either.
Fortunately, researchers are seeking more information about domestic violence and specifically about domestic violence that ends in death. Not surprisingly, much of the research has a mental health aspect.
For example, the article mentioned how substance abuse, depression and estrangement are just some of many risk factors that could increase a battered woman’s chance of eventually being killed by her partner.
Later, the article explained that generally before a battered woman’s life ends at the hands of her partner, there are warning signs. For example, the partner usually engages in a specific kind of abusive behavior called “intimate partner terrorism” or “coercive control.”
“Coercive control is almost exclusively the domain of men,” according to the article. “It is long-term and tyrannical abuse that includes, often in addition to physical violence, attacks on a woman’s self-worth, degrading remarks and obsessive monitoring of her whereabouts and her contact with other people.”
The abuser often has mental health issues like depression or substance abuse, and struggles with obsessive and possessive behavior. In some cases, abusers cope with massive self-shame by severely abusing or killing their partners.
Mental health experts have more insight into how domestic violence can impact mental health, and what issues sometimes predispose people to being in relationships that involve domestic violence.
Nerina Garcia-Arcement, a licensed clinical psychology and a clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, said in an email that there is a gradual process that leads from “normal” relationships to relationships involving domestic violence.
“Women don’t enter violent relationships where they are being hit from day one,” Garcia-Arcement said. “They date men that pay attention to them, are possessive and slowly begin to limit their behavior and social interactions (i.e., the woman can’t talk to friends or family as much or at all, or she can’t wear certain things). Often this controlling behavior is couched as ‘loving them.’”