Bipolar domestic abuse

Building Your Case: How to Document Abuse

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If you are in an abusive relationship and are in the process of taking (or deciding to take) legal action against your abusive partner, documenting the abusive behaviors of your partner can be an important component of building your case.

It’s worth noting that each state has different laws about what evidence and documentation can be used in court. Speaking with a legal advocate in your state might better prepare you for your unique situation (our advocates at the Hotline can help locate a legal advocate near you). According to WomensLaw, in most states evidence can include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Verbal testimony from you or your witnesses
  • Medical reports of injuries from the abuse
  • Pictures (dated) of any injuries
  • Police reports of when you or a witness called the police
  • Household objects torn or broken by the abuser
  • Pictures of your household in disarray after a violent episode
  • Pictures of weapons used by the abuser against you
  • A personal diary or calendar in which you documented the abuse as it happened

Below are a few actions you can take to create documentation, if you are able to or feel safe doing so:

Visit the doctor.

More and more, doctors and gynecologists are trained to recognize signs of abuse. Your health care provider could also be a safe resource for disclosing the abuse. If you’re visiting a doctor for an injury, ask them about safe ways they can make notes about the abuse — ex. Some can write “cause of an injury” without it having to go to the police.

Consider outside documentation.

Do you have a trusted friend, coworker or family member who knows what’s going on and would be willing to help? There are many ways they can help document the abuse — whether that’s a coworker making note of times your partner calls you at the office, or a friend holding your journal at her house.

Create a stalking log.

If your partner is stalking you, creating a stalking log can be very helpful to your case. The National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center has examples of stalking logs (in PDF and Word formats) as well as additional information on stalking.

Learn more about police reports.

ex. Like filing about a lost bike. Ask, “Hypothetically, if there was something that was happening that I would want to report…”

Always ask questions. Call your local police department’s non-emergency number and find out about the protocols and procedures of filing a police report.

This can help you prepare for filing a police report if you need to, which creates a paper trail of the abuse.

Take pictures.

A digital camera or your phone camera may not always be safe. Consider getting a disposable camera. Another option is for someone else to take the pictures and keep them for you.

Let it go to voicemail.

Is your partner calling over and over? Let it go to voicemail once and save the voicemail.

Save digital evidence.

Do you have a smartphone? Most have the “take a screenshot” option. Thirty missed calls from your abusive partner? Take a screenshot of that. Threatening texts? Instead of responding to them, take a screenshot of them. These screen shots get saved in your images folder, so remember to send them on to a friend and delete them. If your partner sends threatening emails, don’t respond to them, but consider saving them in a folder in your inbox.

If you’re not sure if documenting your abuse would be safe, always go with your gut. It’s very important to keep in mind that you are the expert on your situation, and what works for one person may not be a safe idea for another person.

We are not legal advocates at the Hotline, but we are able to offer support and refer you to the local or state resources that might be helpful to you.

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Difference Between Emotional Abuse & Bipolar Relationships

Updated on January 27, 2023

Physically or verbally abusive behavior is never justified, even if the perpetrator has a mental illness. (If you are a victim of domestic violence, seek help immediately—regardless of the circumstances—by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. ) There is utility, though, in exploring the relationship between domestic violence and mental health issues. That’s because the topic is complex and prone to misconceptions, especially when “mental health” encompasses not just one but many disorders, each with their own symptomology. In the material that follows, we’ll explore just one facet of this multi-faceted subject, by looking at it through the lens of bipolar disorder and studies into its relationship with domestic violence.

3 Potential Misconceptions to Avoid and Why

Before taking a closer look at some of the existing literature, bear in mind that this topic can be sensitive. Domestic violence and bipolar disorder, simply by occurring next to one another in a sentence, can feed various misconceptions. By exploring their relationship, we are not suggesting that:

  1. all people with bipolar disorder are violent;
  2. a diagnosis of bipolar disorder necessarily makes you more abusive than people with other mental health conditions;
  3. people with bipolar disorder are always perpetrators of domestic violence (as opposed to victims).

First, the majority of people with bipolar disorder are not more violent than the general population. In fact, in one of the most comprehensive studies of violence and mental illness, the “MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study,” violence was only associated with two clinical symptoms in particular: “command hallucinations,” or psychotic voices telling the person to harm someone else; and psychopathy, a lack of empathy or antisocial behavior not typically understood as a serious mental illness. Each of these symptoms can occur with other mental illnesses and are not defining symptoms of bipolar disorder. In other words, most people with bipolar disorder do not have these symptoms typically associated with higher violence.

Second, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder does not necessarily make you more abusive then people with other mental health conditions. In fact, some research has stated that any serious mental illness can correlate with a higher risk of violence, although mosot people with a psychiatric diagnosis are not violent. For example, one study performed in Sweden found that across the board, people suffering from mental and behavioral health conditions were more likely to perpetrate abuse against their partners.

Third, while some studies report a higher frequency of domestic violence among people with certain mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, the other reality is that victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk of developing bipolar disorder. In this sense, the relationship between bipolar disorder and domestic violence is itself complicated. In some cases, the person with bipolar disorder may be a perpetrator. In other cases, they may be a victim. It’s therefore important to avoid stereotyping the role of any person with bipolar disorder in a relationship tainted by domestic violence.

The Effects of Bipolar Disorder on Relationships

Meanwhile, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder usually will affect a person’s close relationships. Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mood disorder that causes the person affected to fluctuate between manic periods of high energy and excitement and depressive periods of low energy, sadness and other symptoms commonly associated with depression. It’s a chronic brain disease that demands lifelong treatment, often involving medication to control changes in mood.

When your spouse or another close family member receives a bipolar diagnosis, it can be hard to take. Living with someone who has bipolar disorder can also be difficult, especially if the condition goes untreated. In many cases, with the proper treatment, your loved one can live life in control and as the person you know them to be.

The Prevalence of Physical or Emotional Abuse In a Bipolar Relationship

Some research has found there to be a higher frequency of physical or emotional abuse among relationships affected by bipolar disorder in particular. For example, an article published in Psychiatric Times found that people with BD are more likely to be violent toward other people in their lives. But what does this link mean? A few explanations have to do with the behavioral changes that may (or may not) occur with BD, depending on the person.

Perceiving Support as Confrontation

As we’ve explored in the past, people with bipolar disorder may be in denial about changes in their behavior or personality. This may cause the person affected to see a partner’s attempts to be supportive of their condition as confrontational, causing them to lash out verbally or physically.

Uncontrollable Mood Swings

Most people who’ve been in a relationship understand how it feels when their own bad mood makes them easily annoyed by their partner. We might look back on arguments later and wonder what started them. For people with BD, this dynamic is taken to more of an extreme.

When a bipolar person is experiencing a manic episode, they may experience feelings of happiness and motivation, but this sudden burst of energy can also manifest itself in a negative way.

The same applies to behavior during a depressive episode. When a person is feeling low or depressed, they may experience apathy and stop caring about other people’s feelings temporarily, which may lead them to say something hurtful they wouldn’t otherwise say.

The delicate nature of a relationship is part of what makes it so amazing when people can share trust and love. However, when one partner is struggling to control their mood and behavior due to an untreated mental health condition, it can put the relationship’s stability on a knife’s edge.

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Why Is It So Important?

If you’re in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, your next steps should be made with your own best interests in mind. We would never recommend reconciliation in a case where one person is physically or emotionally harming their partner.

With this in mind, it’s important that the abuser gets the help they need as well—especially if their behavior is unique to their bouts with severe BD. Here are a few of the main reasons why help is needed:

Avoid the Vicious Cycle of Mental Health and Abuse

At least one factor might explain the link between domestic abuse and bipolar disorder (where it does occur). The Psychiatric Times article mentioned above stated that around 80 percent of people with bipolar disorder experienced one or more traumatic events earlier in their lives. This shows that abuse isn’t only the result of some cases of mental illness—it’s also the cause.

Additionally, there’s a stigma that psychiatric patients are violent people, which harms the cause of raising awareness for these types of disorders. In most cases, patients are not inherently violent or dangerous; they just need an increased degree of support.

Jails Can’t Support the Needs of People With Mental Health Conditions

Mental illness can cause issues with impulse control and behavior. When physical and verbal abuse by a spouse with BD ends up involving law enforcement, the justice system usually doesn’t have the resources to help that spouse get the treatment they require. As a result, inmates with mental illness tend to stay incarcerated longer. When they do get out, they find it more difficult to get a job or secure stable housing and as a result, often end up being rearrested.

Getting Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

When a spouse with bipolar disorder abuses you, it’s a serious matter. If you don’t feel your issues are something counseling can fix without further harm to your physical or emotional wellbeing, you should leave. Additionally, your partner shouldn’t be able to use their condition as an excuse. Domestic abuse, or emotional abuse, is never okay and should always have consequences for the perpetrator.

If you yourself are struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder, they could very well be rooted in past abuse and trauma. At FHE Health, our priority is making sure that people with bipolar disorder and their loved ones can access the support they need to live a healthy life. Contact us today for more information about your treatment options.

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About Chris Foy

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Bipolar Affective Disorder - ARSMEDIC

(Manic-depressive psychosis, circular psychosis) is a mental disorder with alternating emotional ups (mania, hypomania) and mood swings, and sometimes mixed states, where there are symptoms, both depressive and manic .

An affective disorder is named precisely because it is associated with a violation of the emotional state, that is, mood.

These affective states are called episodes or phases, which periodically replace each other, almost without external circumstances. These episodes (phases), both depressive and manic, can occur with psychotic symptoms.

In the manic phase, psychotic symptoms manifest as ideas of greatness, special significance, such patients believe that they “possess huge money, wealth, imagine themselves successful people, businessmen who enter into multimillion-dollar contracts, believe that they have the right to manage people, give instructions to them, ”sometimes they believe that they are outwardly and sexually irresistible, often enter into numerous sexual relationships indiscriminately.

In the depressive phase, patients express ideas of persecution, self-accusation and self-abasement.

They think that someone is following them, most often it is a special. services, because they were guilty of something, "gave out some secrets."

In anxiety, such patients think that “it is necessary to protect their relatives from persecution” and often, seeing no other way out, make suicide attempts, thus trying to “save relatives from punishment”.

Patients experience “lucid intervals” (intermissions) between attacks. In which the psyche and personality of the patient are fully restored.

The onset of the disease is the age of 25-44 years.

CAUSES OF BAR are genetics and stressful situations.

Other mental disorders often have a similar clinical picture, such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, the use of psychoactive substances - cocaine, amphetamine and other psychostimulants. In addition, patients with impaired thyroid function, as well as with other neurological and somatic diseases.

Therefore, for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it is necessary to undergo a complete examination not only by a psychiatrist, but also by doctors of other specialties.

A variety of psychotropic drugs are used in the treatment of BAD , depending on the patient's condition and the intensity of clinical manifestations.

Psychiatric care can be provided on an outpatient or inpatient basis. The volume and type of treatment (inpatient or outpatient) is determined by a psychiatrist.

Antipsychotics are used in the treatment of mania; depressive states - antidepressants. In both cases, they are immediately prescribed mood stabilizers (mood stabilizers) for subsequent long-term therapy for bipolar disorder.

Antipsychotics, as antidepressants, are prescribed only for stopping phases. With the weakening of the symptoms, both depressive and manic, these drugs are canceled and the patient takes only mood stabilizers.

The duration of treatment is determined individually by the attending psychiatrist.

It is also important to note the role of psychotherapy in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Psychotherapy helps a patient with bipolar disorder to form an adequate attitude towards their disease, "accept their disease, live with it and lead a normal life."

"It's my own fault!", or domestic violence in an era of gender equality from violence: Russia scored zero points in the field of legislation on the protection of women's rights, because the country has no laws on domestic violence, harassment in the workplace, and there is no article in the Criminal Code on sexual violence at work.

As a result, Russia's place turned out to be among such countries as Liberia, Gabon, Iran, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

So what is "domestic violence" and why do we have such problems with it? In a broad sense, domestic (family) violence is commonly understood as any manipulation of someone against his will by people who are in personal relationships with him - spouses, partners (sometimes former and even not necessarily living together).

From the definition it is clear that since domestic violence is manipulation, it can be both physical and psychological, economic, emotional (eg insults, imposition of guilt, financial control, restrictions on personal freedom, etc.). We will focus on only one aspect - physical violence, since these cases lead to the most tragic consequences.

The difficult fate of the "spanking law"

In Russia, statistics on domestic violence are fragmentary, difficult to access, and often simply absent. The number of women victims of crimes involving violent acts against a family member amounted to 23. 5 thousand people in 2018, of which 53% suffered at the hands of a spouse. Amendments to the law on the decriminalization of beatings in the family (aka the “spanking law”), adopted in 2017, only led to the fact that women’s appeals to the police stopped spoiling the statistics. Some experts believe that this was the main point of legislative innovations, since in 2019This year the government will have to report to the UN on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Slow academic discussions about whether the law on the decriminalization of beatings is good or bad would continue to this day if several high-profile events had not occurred over the past seven months: this is the story of Margarita Gracheva, whose hands were cut off by her husband in December 2018, and the story of the Khachaturian sisters who killed their father in July 2018, who had previously beaten and raped them for many years, and many similar cases that did not receive such wide publicity.

Read also

The Federation Council allowed the introduction of criminal liability for domestic violence

Plus, in April 2019, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women for the first time recognized Russia as responsible for discrimination against Shema Timagova, a resident of Chechnya, who suffered from domestic violence, and recommended Russia to return everything to its original place - that is, to again criminalize domestic violence, introduce proven tools into the legislation, primarily the so-called protection orders, the meaning of which is to limit contacts between the perpetrator of violence and his victim, and also to transfer domestic violence from the sphere of private prosecution into the sphere of private-public, when the actions to protect the victim are carried out by the state.

And at the beginning of July 2019, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was made, awarding more than €25,000 and reimbursement of legal expenses to Valeria Volodina from Ulyanovsk. She complained that the police and the courts failed to protect her from repeated cases of domestic violence, including beatings, abductions, stalking and threats. In its decision, the ECtHR emphasized that the legal mechanisms in the field of protecting women's rights that exist in Russia are insufficient to combat domestic violence, and the authorities are not ready to recognize the seriousness of the problem. At the end of June, the ECHR accepted for consideration four complaints of Russian women about domestic violence, and in total, according to Dmitry Dedov, an ECHR judge from Russia, about 100 Russian women addressed the ECHR with similar complaints.

As a result, the Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova, and Senator Andrey Klishas are now in favor of revising the famous "law on slaps". Another text of the bill "On the system of prevention of domestic violence" was submitted to the State Duma Committee on State Building and Legislation. Recall that over the past ten years, such bills have been submitted to the State Duma 40 times (!), but never even reached the first reading, getting stuck in the approval procedures in the committees. It is obvious that the authorities do not show much willingness to deal with this problem, which, according to experts, is due to considerations of budget savings.

Public perception of domestic violence and victimblaming

This attitude is largely based on the perception of domestic violence by the population. As some sociological surveys show, more than half of the population does not consider domestic violence an important social problem, 9% of men are sure that sometimes it is "useful" to hit a wife or child, and 7% believe that domestic violence is excusable if it happened "in the heat of the moment" . But the majority of Russians turned out to be quite modern and adequate people: 61% of respondents believe that any physical violence in the family is unacceptable - 69% among women and 50% among men (another recent survey showed even higher numbers - 80% of respondents said that there is no justification for domestic violence). However, at the same time, almost two-thirds of the respondents (63%) agree that women themselves sometimes provoke the use of violence against them by their appearance, clothing or behavior - and this smoothly brings us to the problem of victimblaming.

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Victimblaming or blaming the victim is the transfer of responsibility to the victim, blaming her that she, through her actions, provoked the offender to violence. Psychologists explain this phenomenon with the concept of a just world. The discoverer of the phenomenon of faith in a just world, the American psychologist Melvin Lerner, in experiments showed that people tend to believe that in the end, evil will be punished, and good will be rewarded (which is why, by the way, we like American happy endings so much). Lerner came to the conclusion that the belief in the justice of punishment indirectly justifies violence and explains it by the behavior of the victim. That is why the courts sometimes find out so meticulously how the woman who was beaten by her husband behaved, how long her skirt was and whether she cooked borscht well.

Victims of domestic violence in most cases hear from those around them arguments like: "It's your own fault, why didn't you leave, why did you endure it?" The phenomenon of victimblaming is very clearly manifested in the resonant stories of Margarita Gracheva and the Khachaturian sisters. In the case of Margarita Gracheva, a grandiose controversy flared up on social networks, and as a result, the prosecutors came to a “logical” conclusion - well, he couldn’t cut off her hands for no reason! So, it was for what! Oil was added to the fire by a photo session in which Margarita Gracheva starred - critics accused her of promoting herself on the tragedy of the family, and her look was depraved, so she deservedly got it.

In the story of the Khachaturian sisters, the case was not limited to a skirmish in social networks, the print media got involved, and supporters and opponents actively went to rallies and pickets. One of the central newspapers published an article with a "speaking" title: "The bloodiest case of the year: what are the Khachaturian sisters hiding?" In another publication on the case of the Khachaturian sisters, the adoption of the law on domestic violence was associated with the possible legalization of same-sex marriage and the threat to our "historically patriarchal society."

Lenore Walker: the concept of the "cycle of abuse"

So why do victims of domestic violence live under the same roof with their perpetrator for years, despite repeated episodes of violence? To explain it, the American psychologist Lenore Walker proposed the concept of the "cycle of violence", which describes the dynamics of relationships in a couple through the alternation of stages of growing psychological stress, violence, reconciliation and "honeymoon". It is the transition from violence to remorse and reconciliation that is why marriage remains attractive to partners (you love rollercoasters, don't you?), but a woman's self-esteem and her ability to act are increasingly declining. After the honeymoon, the couple's relationship gradually returns to the first stage, and the cycle repeats. As time passes, each phase becomes shorter, and the outbreaks of violence become more frequent and more violent. Despite this, many women return to their abusive partners again for the "honeymoon" period, when "everything is so good!", "as if at the beginning of our acquaintance!". Over time, the scale and brutality of violence in a couple begin to get out of control, and then their personal history runs the risk of one day getting into the pages of the judicial chronicle.

Of course, along with such extreme cases, there are many others where the episode of violence did not recur or even ended the relationship of the couple, but these relatively successful stories do not reach the public. Moreover, stories in which a husband kills his wife rarely reach the public. However, stories where the wife unwittingly becomes the killer excite society much more, and in these cases, victims of domestic violence have a real chance to get acquainted with Russian legislation in terms of necessary defense, and this acquaintance does not bode well for them.

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