Intimate Partner Violence and Women with Severe Mental Illnesses: Needs and Challenges from the Perspectives of Behavioral Health and Domestic Violence Service Providers

  • Tonya B. Van DeinseEmail author
  • Amy Blank Wilson
  • Rebecca J. Macy
  • Gary S. Cuddeback


Women with severe mental illnesses face high rates of violence victimization, yet little is understood about the unique needs and challenges these women present to the domestic violence and behavioral health agencies that serve them. To help address this knowledge gap, focus groups were conducted with 28 staff members from local behavioral health and domestic violence service agencies. Results from this exploratory study suggest that women with severe mental illnesses who experience intimate partner violence face additional challenges that exacerbate behavioral health and domestic violence issues and put these women at greater risk for continued victimization. DV and behavioral health agency staff experience individual-, provider-, and system-level barriers to serving this high-risk, high-need population. Recommendations and implications for domestic violence and behavioral health providers are discussed.


Severe mental illness Domestic violence Challenges Behavioral health services 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tonya B. Van Deinse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy Blank Wilson
    • 1
  • Rebecca J. Macy
    • 1
  • Gary S. Cuddeback
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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