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June and July serve as critical months for educating ourselves and others about mental health issues among marginalized communities. During Pride Month in June, we focus on the LGBTQ+ community, while July’s National Minority Mental Health Month (also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month) emphasizes the struggles racial minorities face. 

Both of these groups experience domestic violence at higher rates than their white, cisgender, and heterosexual counterparts. Consequently, it’s essential to shine a light on the disproportionate difficulties around minority mental health and the significant harm to mental health domestic violence inflicts. 

Mental Health Trends Among Americans in General

Recognizing mental health challenges, making treatments and resources more available, and removing stigma around them is an ongoing process in the US. As of 2024, the landscape of mental health reveals both areas of significant improvement and ongoing challenges. Here are some key takeaways from reputable sources:

This complex portrait of American mental health as a whole underscores the need for continued advocacy and policy reform to bridge the gaps in mental health awareness, services, and perceptions for everyone, but especially for members of vulnerable groups.

How Domestic Violence Impacts Mental Health

There is arguably no demographic more vulnerable or in need of wellness support than survivors of domestic violence. That’s because abuse doesn’t just add to existing stressors; it multiplies them. Just a few of the mental health disorders intimate partner violence can cause in survivors and their children include:

  • •   Trauma-related disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder
  • •   Depression
  • •   Anxiety
  • •   Bipolar disorder
  • •   Schizophrenia
  • •   Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • •   Suicidal ideation

Survivors who are unable to leave abusive relationships not only experience exacerbated wellness challenges but also increased barriers to getting the care they need. This is in part because abusive partners seek to control survivors and keep them trapped in the relationship, whereas mental health care services (along with other domestic violence services) strive to heal women, make them more independent, and assist them with legal recourse. Abusers will actively prevent their partners from seeking or receiving these services.

Mental Health and Domestic Violence Disparities for LGBTQ+ and Racial Minority Groups

Mental Health in LGBTQ+ Communities

In addition to any general wellness challenges LGBTQ+ individuals experience, people in this group often face significant societal stigma, discrimination, and exclusion because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. These injustices are so normalized that it’s not uncommon for individuals to internalize heterosexism and cisgenderism or cissexism, which is inherently harmful to self-image and broader LGBTQ+ mental health

All of these factors together create a form of chronic stress known as minority stress. As a result, LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, among other disorders. 

Domestic Violence in LGBTQ+ Communities

Although cases are frequently underreported, LGBTQ+ individuals experience domestic violence at rates equal to or higher than that of their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts. Intimate partner violence in LGBTQ+ contexts often includes unique coercive tactics related to the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity. The intersection of these factors with mental health is profound, as victims often suffer from greatly increased mental health disorders due to the abuse.

Mental Health Among Racial Minorities

Racial minorities in the United States face significant mental health disparities due to major systemic factors, such as:

  • •   Heavily normalized overt or unconscious discrimination
  • •   Racial pay and wealth gaps
  • •   Cultural stigmas about mental wellness
  • •   A distrust of American healthcare systems, which are still predominantly white today
  • •   A lack of access to culturally competent care or any care at all

These disparities are often exacerbated by a lack of awareness about mental health, which prevents individuals from seeking help.

Domestic Violence in Communities of Color

Domestic violence is a critical issue in communities of color, where historical and systemic inequalities often compound the prevalence of abuse. For example, research shows that African American women experience higher rates of domestic violence than their white counterparts. 

Survivors of color have the added difficulty of not being able to count on law enforcement for help. Black men are at more than twice the risk of being brutalized or killed by police, and Black women are at high risk of being criminalized, incarcerated, and prosecuted in the process of trying to defend themselves or escape their abusers. 

As we observe Pride Month and National Minority Mental Health Month, it becomes crucial to address the overlapping issues of domestic violence and mental health in LGBTQ+ and racial minority communities. Awareness, education, and supportive services must be tailored to address the specific needs of these groups to foster safer, healthier environments for survivors of all demographics. Understanding and mitigating the impacts of domestic violence on mental health in these communities not only aids in recovery and healing but also paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Protect the Well-Being of Sexual, Gender, and Racial Minorities With CAWC

At Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC), we believe that everyone has a right to a life free of violence. Our mission to end domestic violence in all demographics is rooted in education, service, and advocacy. In addition to working toward broader social change, we provide empowerment-based and trauma-informed support in the form of shelter, counseling, and advocacy to individuals affected by intimate partner violence and their children. 

If you or someone you know is actively experiencing the impacts of sexual violence, don’t hesitate to call our 24-hour hotline at 773-278-4566. For nonemergency support, reach out through our contact form today.

Want to help us protect more survivors and children? You can impact the life of a domestic violence survivor or a child who witnessed domestic violence by donating to CAWC today or by supporting our work in other ways.