Young people living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence over their lifetime than other young people in the community, an Orygen study has found.
The paper found 60 per cent of young people living with BPD had been victims of violent offences, compared with 44 per cent of young people in the community.
People living with BPD were also more likely to be a complainant seeking a family violence intervention order than those without (50 per cent versus 27 per cent respectively).
Senior author, Orygen’s Professor Andrew Chanen, said the paper was one of the few to look at the interpersonal risks to young people living with BPD.
“Most studies have focused on the link between BPD and violence perpetration, but I’ve been working in this area a long time and I’ve seen young people living with BPD on the receiving end of violence far too often,” Professor Chanen said of the findings published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
“What these findings show is that young people living with BPD are in fact more vulnerable to interpersonal violence than other young people and we need to look at ways to address this.
“What we’re proposing is that by providing prevention and early intervention programs that build and strengthen interpersonal skills among young people living with BPD, this might reduce the risk of experiencing interpersonal violence.”
The paper included a sample of 492 young people seeking mental health care at Orygen between 1998 and 2008. Data on victimisation was taken from the statewide Victorian Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program database.
Significantly, the analysis found that not all young people living with BPD were at the same risk.
“Young people with more severe BPD – which we defined as those who met more BPD diagnostic criteria – were more likely to be victims of violence,” Professor Chanen said.
“We also found that, contrary to much previous research, males were at greater risk of becoming victims of family violence than females.”
Young people with certain BPD features were also more likely to become victims of violence.
Those with greater impulsivity and anger were at a 1.7- to 1.8-fold increased risk of being victims of a violent offence than others living with BPD.
Meanwhile those experiencing unstable relationships, impulsivity and emotional instability were at a 1.7- to 1.9-fold increased risk of being a complainant seeking a family violence intervention order than others.
“Early intervention for BPD not only focuses upon the immediate needs of young people but also it aims to have downstream effects. Reducing experiences of violence is among the most important of these goals at both time points,” Professor Chanen said.