Home > Health Library > Domestic Abuse
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:
Domestic violence 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. Both men and women experience domestic abuse. It is a common form of violent behavior and is a major problem in the United States.
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 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.
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Physical abuse may include:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911 .
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to
preserve any evidence of the attack.
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual
activity that is done against your will. It can be:
Domestic violence, also called
intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abuse in
which one person uses fear and intimidation to gain power and control over a
partner or family member. It may involve physical, emotional, or sexual abuse,
Neglect is a form of abuse. It happens
when caregivers do not protect the health and well-being of the person they are
supposed to take care of.
Two common types of neglect are:
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 are in an abusive relationship, 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.
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:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMay 27, 2016
Current as of:
May 27, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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