by David Mandel, MA, LPC
Domestic violence frequently co-occurs with mental health and substance abuse issues. A batterer may be diagnosed correctly or inappropriately with mental health issues. A domestic violence survivor may also have a substance abuse problem. A child who has been exposed to batterer’s behaviors may have mental or behavioral health issues. Frequently our response to these issues are “siloed,” meaning we prioritize one over the other or even completely ignore one issue to focus on another. For instance substance abuse and mental health counselors may not screen for domestic violence or if domestic violence perpetration is identified as an issue it may seen as a symptom of the substance abuse. A survivor’s recovery plan may be developed without consideration of how the perpetrator might try to sabotage her recovery. Or a child’s behavioral health issues are not evaluated in the context of historic and current domestic violence.
The following is a 1o item checklist to help begin the conversation about the intersection of domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues. I share this list with the idea that raising our awareness by asking questions about the connection between different issues can be huge step forward in our ability to help families.