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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 include:
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.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
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 .
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
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:
Physical abuse may include:
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to preserve any evidence of the attack.
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, such as:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
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. Call:
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:
Current as of: September 5, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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