Women’s Aid responds to University of London study: Abusive messages impact on survivors’ mental health
Today, The University of London published a new study exploring the impact of abusive messages on survivors’ mental health. The study suggests receiving threatening messaging is common in the context of intimate partner violence and explores the long term impact this has, with victims at higher risk of mental disorder, self-harm and suicidality,
Sophie Francis-Cansfield, Policy Manager at Women’s Aid said:
“Abusive and threatening messages are extremely distressing and damaging to a survivor’s mental health, and often form part of a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour.
Domestic abuse does not end when a woman has left the relationship. Abusive, offensive and threatening messages are another way for a perpetrator to continue their abuse, even if they don’t know where the woman is. In a survey we undertook with nearly 700 survivors, 85% of the respondents said that the abuse they received online from a partner or ex-partner was part of a pattern of abuse they also experienced offline. Half of the respondents told us that the online abuse they experienced involved direct threats to them or someone they knew. Nearly a third reported that threats had actually been carried out.
Technology has made this all the more easier. We regularly hear from women about the hundreds of distressing and threatening messages they have received in the days following the end of an abusive relationship, whether through voice and text messages, social media or by email.
For many women, these threats are not just empty threats. We have already seen welcome progress through the criminalisation of threats to share intimate images through the Domestic Abuse Act. It is crucial that policymakers, practitioners and professionals understand the severe impact of coercive and controlling behaviour, including sending threatening or obscene messages, on the mental health of survivors – whatever format they may take.
Responses to survivors must recognise that domestic abuse and violence against women and girls (VAWG) are fundamental drivers of women’s mental health problems. All women and children must have access to the appropriate, needs-led and trauma-informed mental health support that they need to recover and rebuild their lives.”
Click here to read more: Receiving threatening or obscene messages from a partner and mental health