Complicating the problem of bipolar disorder and violence is the fact that victims of abuse, especially domestic abuse, are more apt to develop mental problems, including bipolar disorder, than are non-victims. While bipolar women are more often victims of domestic violence than are bipolar men, both are more often victims than are those without a mental disorder.
While the question of whether abuse can cause bipolar disorder has yet to be answered, there is some evidence that as many as half of all bipolar people experienced physical, sexual, and emotional trauma as children.
Nonetheless, most bipolar people are not abusive. A bipolar person who does become violent is probably in a manic or mixed state, although these do not always lead to violence. Bipolar violence can be addressed with psychiatric help that includes bipolar medications and will probably put an end to violent episodes. When all else fails, a bipolar person experiencing extreme mania, whether or not violence occurs, may have to be admitted to a locked psychiatric ward until the mania ends.
If you have a relationship with a violent person, bipolar or not, you should seek professional counseling about how to leave. Unfortunately, just walking away from a violent partner can put you at risk for his or her following you and continuing the abuse, because violence is a lack of impulse control. A good counselor should help you escape safely.
Bipolar people in a severe manic or depressed state may be at risk for violence against themselves as well as for violence against others. They may start cutting themselves, even to the point of bleeding to death, or they may turn to other suicidal methods. They should not be left alone, although practically speaking, providing someone to keep an eye on them may be tricky. On the one hand, a companion may not be available, and on the other hand, the bipolar person may insist on solitude.
Bipolar men of low socio-economic status are more likely than other bipolar people to become violent, because they have less of a support system. This suggests that efforts should be made to reach economically disadvantaged communities with bipolar counseling and support.
When a violent bipolar person first seeks treatment, the result is not necessarily immediate. There will probably be a period during which the doctor and patient try different medications until they find the most effective ones. Moreover, some medications for bipolar disorder can take over a week to show results. After the correct bipolar meds kick in, however, any violence should subside.