Young people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence throughout their lifetime, Orygen research has found.
The link was made after researchers cross-checked the records of 492 young people aged 15-25 who had attended Orygen’s Helping Young People Early (HYPE) program against state-wide police data to identify criminal offences perpetrated against the young people or family violence intervention orders implemented to protect the young people from the violent behaviour of another person.
The young people were outpatients of Orygen’s HYPE program between January 1998 and March 2008, while the police data examined covered the period March 1993 to June 2017.
Orygen research fellow, and lead author of the study, Dr Marialuisa Cavelti said the study team found that symptoms experienced by people with BPD may increase their risk of being a victim of interpersonal violence by 1.25–2.5 times.
“There are several reasons why young people with BPD are more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence,” Dr Cavelti said. “In our research we found that anger and impulsivity predicted a higher risk of being the victim of a violence offense, while unstable relationships, impulsivity and affective instability predicted a higher risk of being the complainant of a family violence intervention order.”
The study results were published in January in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Although several studies have examined the link between BPD and violence perpetration, research on the risk of people with BPD becoming the victim of violence has been scarce, particularly in young people, Dr Cavelti said.
“The knowledge we have gained about the relationship between BPD and the risk for victimisation can inform prevention and early intervention programs for young people with BPD, helping them protect themselves from further violence and suffering,” she said.
Dr Cavelti is supported by grants from the Bangerter-Rhyner-Foundation and the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation in Switzerland.