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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:
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.
Signs of abuse
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.
Domestic abuse and your health
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.
How to get help
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.
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 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.
If you know someone who may be abused
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:
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
To prevent injury from domestic violence
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.
Preparing For Your Appointment
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:
Other Places To Get Help
Last Revised: December 23, 2011
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