Mental Illness and DV

I can’t tell you how many people I see in court, both victims and defendants arrested for domestic violence that suffer from some sort of mental illness, drug or alcohol problems.  I’m not saying that because someone suffers from one of these that they can not be victims or perpetrators of Domestic Violence, or that they are an excuse or the cause of the violence.   The thing is, if someone is suffering from a serious problem just sending them to an Anger Management or a Batterers Program is not going to fix the problem.   They need to get help for their underlying issue first.

Twice now in the past two weeks I’ve had female defendants arrested for domestic disturbance of the peace.   In both cases there was a serious underlying mental illness issue that needed medical treatment.   In both cases the prosecutor immediately said that they both should attend anger management.   In both cases the outbursts happened because the women were on the wrong medications.  It wasn’t an anger issue, it was a medication issue.   Perhaps, just perhaps these one time, freaky incidents would never happen again if they were sent to get their meds straight and get some mental health therapy.    People like this need compassion and understanding, sometimes they need to be forced to get medical help, and the courts can help with that by making a condition of their plea agreement.

Abusers choose to behave violently to get what they want and gain control. Their behaviour often originates from a sense of entitlement which is often supported by sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes.

People with medication issues do not choose to behave violently, it just happens and they need our support and help to fix it.  You can’t fix a bad back by sending someone to a dentist!