Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness
Loss of physical health is a detriment to the mental health of any person, but for abusers already struggling to maintain a level of control in their family life, the diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness may amp up the risk to an intimate partner victim. The abuser may contemplate the victim’s future without him, which may trigger extreme jealousy. He may view the financial circumstances which often accompany a medical crisis as insurmountable, or may experience the onset of depressive symptoms or suicidal ideations, both of which put him in a position of increased risk to himself, the victim and others.
As is the case with victims experiencing abuse during pregnancy, the medical community is uniquely situated to screen domestic violence perpetrators experiencing a medical crisis and connect them with appropriate, supportive crisis and family violence intervention. In cases reviewed by the Project, during the five years leading up to the fatal incident, perpetrators were known to be in contact with a private physician in 19 percent of cases and made contact with a hospital in 20 percent of cases.