Everyone gets angry from time to time. Anger and arguments are normal
parts of healthy relationships. But anger that leads to threats, hitting, or
hurting someone is not normal or healthy. This is a form of abuse. Physical,
verbal, or sexual abuse is not okay in any relationship. When it occurs between
spouses or partners or in a dating relationship, it is called domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is also called
intimate partner violence or domestic violence. It is not the same as an
occasional argument. It is a pattern of abuse used by
one person to control another.
In addition to violence between intimate partners:
Each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate-partner-related physical assaults and rapes. Men are the victims of about 2.9 million intimate-partner-related physical assaults. It can
happen to anyone, at any age, no matter what race or religion people are, no
matter what their level of education is or how much money they make.
Does your partner:
If any of these things are happening, you need to get
help. It's important to know that you are not alone. The way your partner acts is not your fault. There is no excuse for domestic violence. Help is available.
Living in an abusive
relationship can cause long-term health problems. Some of these health problems
Women who are sexually abused by their partners have a
greater chance of having
sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies,
and other problems.
Violence can get worse during pregnancy.
Abused women are more likely to have problems such as low weight gain, anemia,
infections, and bleeding during pregnancy. Abuse during this time may increase
the baby's risk of low birth weight, premature birth, or death.
Abusers often blame the victim for the abuse. They may say
"you made me do it." This is not true. People are responsible for their own actions. They may say they are sorry and tell you it will never happen again,
even though it already has.
After abuse starts, it usually gets
worse if you don't take steps to stop it. If you are in an abusive relationship,
ask for help. This may be hard, but know that you are not alone. Your family;
friends; fellow church members; employer; doctor; or local YMCA, YWCA,
police department, hospital, or clinic can help you. These national hotlines
can help you find resources in your area. Call:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor or get other help.
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After abuse starts, it usually gets
worse if steps are not taken to stop it. If you are in an abusive relationship,
ask for help. This may be hard, but know that you are not alone. Help is available.
If you feel threatened, it is very important to develop a plan
for dealing with a threatening situation. If your partner has threatened to
harm you or your child, seek help.
Here are some other things you can do:
If you are no longer living with a violent partner, contact
the police to get a restraining order if your abuser
continues to pursue you, threaten you, or act violently toward you.
If you have been a victim of abuse and continue to have problems related
to the abuse, you may have depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more
information, see the topics Depression and
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Here are some
things you can do to help a friend or family member.
The most important step is to help your friend contact local
domestic violence groups. There are programs across the country that provide
options for safety, support, needed information and services, and legal
support. To find the nearest program, call:
If problems from
domestic abuse become more frequent or severe, call your doctor to determine if and when you need to see your
doctor or get other help.
It's also important to watch for signs of teen relationship abuse in your teen so you can help him or her with any problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
If you have made an
appointment with your doctor, you may be able to get the most from your visit
by being prepared to answer the following questions:
The National Center for Victims of Crime is a resource and advocacy
organization for crime victims. The Center provides direct services and
resources, advocates for laws and policies to secure the rights of crime
victims, delivers training and support to victim service organizations,
counselors, attorneys, criminal justice agencies, and other professionals to
help victims regain control of their lives.
NCADV's work includes coalition building at the local, state, regional and national levels; support for the provision of community-based, nonviolent alternatives (such as safe home and shelter programs) for battered women and their children; public education and technical assistance; policy development and innovative legislation; focus on the leadership of NCADV's caucuses developed to represent the concerns of organizationally under represented groups; and efforts to eradicate social conditions that contribute to violence against women and children.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers crisis
intervention, information about domestic violence, and referrals to local
service providers for victims of domestic violence (men, women, and teens) and those
calling on their behalf. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year, in English, Spanish, and other languages. The hotline connects callers to
more than 4,000 shelters and service providers in the United States, Puerto
Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
December 23, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Brigid McCaw, MD, MS, MPH, FACP - Family Violence Prevention & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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