According to a recent study, published in Psychological Medicine journal, people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, are much more likely to be directly or indirectly involved in violence, either as offenders or victims.
Compared to people who are not diagnosed with this condition, people with ADHD are approximately 2.5 times more likely to engage in violence and have an 80% greater chance of becoming the victim of sexual or intimate partner violence (IPV).
Intimate partner violence, involving physical, sexual, or psychological violence, is a significant public health concern and often involves mutual violence between partners, with many victims and perpetrators, with women being more likely to experience this violence.
Sexual violence is defined as any sexual act committed or attempted by another person without the victim’s consent or against a person who is incapable of giving consent or refuse. While acts of sexual violence against strangers often attract media attention, they also frequently occur between intimate partners. Data show that about 4.2% of women and 2.4% of men have experienced at least one instance of sexual violence in the past year.
The study’s author, Gonzalo Arrondo, and his coworkers sought to examine the relationship between ADHD, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence in children and adults. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests as persistent forms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It often begins in childhood and may continue into adulthood, requiring clinical diagnosis and appropriate management.
The research team conducted a meta-analysis, a statistical method that combines and examines data from various separate studies in order to reach broader and more reliable conclusions on a given research topic. They concentrated on research involving ADHD individuals and examined information about involvement in sexual or intimate partner violence as either a victim or an offender.
The researchers collected 14 studies, seven of which were on intimate partner violence, five on sexual violence, and the rest reported both, totaling 1,111,557 individuals, ranging from young people to adolescents.
After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that individuals with ADHD had 2.5 times higher odds of being perpetrators of intimate partner violence compared to individuals who don’t suffer from this disorder. People with ADHD were also more likely to experience intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault.
In comparison to people without ADHD, individuals with ADHD are 1.78 times more prone to becoming a victim of intimate partner violence.
“Our results are of high clinical and social relevance but could be misinterpreted. On the one hand, we must emphasize that we have presented relative risks of an infrequent event,” stated the researchers, stressing that these results should not be used to stigmatize people with ADHD since most individuals with this disorder will not be involved in a case of intimate partner violence or sexual victimization.
The researcher concluded that the link between ADHD and a higher risk of perpetrating or of being the victim of violence should not be minimized, as intimate partner violence and sexual violence can have lasting consequences in the person concerned.