Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Abuse of spouse or partner occurs when one partner attempts to harmthe other in a relationship in which the two people are dating, married,or living together. A recent study of girls in 9th through 12th gradefound that one out of five girls was physically and/or sexually abusedby a dating partner.
Abuse can take different forms, for example:
What are the causes and risks of the injury?
Spousal abuse happens to people of all religions, ethnicorigins, and income levels. It happens in both man-woman and same-sexrelationships. Women are the victims of domestic violence in 9 out of10 cases, most often when they are between the ages of 19 and 29.
Recent studies show a man is more likely to abuse hisspouse or partner if he has been violent in the past. A partnership alsohas a higher chance of becoming violent if one or more of the followingrisk factors are present.
When two of these factors are present in a relationship,the risk of violence doubles. A couple with seven or more of these riskfactors is 40 times more likely to have an abusive relationship.
Experts know that teens who have been abused are at higherrisk for other health problems. However, we do not yet know whether the healthproblems came before the abuse or if the abuse increased the risk for thehealth problems. These problems include:
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?
The physical signs of spousal abuse can include:
The emotional signs of abuse are not as easy to see. Thevictim may have these traits:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the injury recognized?
There are not always physical signs of spousal abuse.While cuts and bruises may cause suspicion, emotional symptomsmay not. Victims of abuse are often too afraid to report the abuse.An jealous partner who is controlling or hostile in public maybe a signal to others that there is abuse. When a friend, familymember, or caregiver suspects abuse, he or she should ask about itand offer to help.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the injury?
The best way to prevent abuse is to teach children how tosolve problems without using violence. Teenagers and young adultsshould be taught that it’s never OK to abuse a partner. Parents anddoctors should provide teens with facts and statistics about datingviolence. The teens should be given specific information about behaviorsthat are part of dating violence. They should be encouraged to discussany issues or concerns with a parent or other trusted adult.
Since health concerns such as cocaine use are associated with ahigher risk for partner abuse, doctors should address datingviolence when treating teens with these health concerns. Careful screening canhelp identify at-risk teens and provide a chance to stop the abuse cycle.
As citizens, we can also help prevent the cycle of abuse inour society by pushing for these measures.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the injury?
Victims who are physically hurt may need treatmentfor their injuries. Counseling and psychiatric treatment for any victimof abuse may prevent long-term effects. This treatment may include:
The abuser may need help in the following ways:
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptakeinhibitors or SSRIs are often used to treat symptoms ofdepression,anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder,which is also called PTSD. The most common side effects are:
Some people also become more anxious or irritable.Others may develop sexual problems, such aserectile dysfunction.
None of the side effects are long-lasting. Within weeks ofstarting an SSRI, most people can tolerate the side effects they have.For other people, side effects go away. When they are constant anduncomfortable, a change in the medicine or dosage or the additionof another medicine often helps.
What happens after treatment for the injury?
If antidepressants are used, it may take a few weeks to amonth for the full effect to be felt by the person taking them.
Long-term effects can include PTSD. In this case, this disorderis a result of physical, mental, or sexual violence. The victim may havethe following conditions:
Even if the victim doesn’t suffer from PTSD, he or shemay have other long-term effects, such as:
Studies show that half of men who abuse their partners alsoabuse their children.Abused mothers often have trouble holding jobs. They also need welfaremore often. This means that children from abusive homes are at a greaterrisk of being poor and homeless.
Local, state, and federal agencies, including police andsocial services, keep spousal abuse statistics. Many foundations, suchas the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the AmericanBar Association, also monitor abuse. Local agencies that receivereports of abuse from healthcare workers and other sources investigateand track high-risk families.
Article type: xmedgeneral