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Concerns About Your Health

Anger that leads to threats and verbal abuse is not okay in any relationship. They are forms of emotional abuse. If you live in fear of physical or emotional abuse, call your doctor.

It may be hard for you to ask for help or talk about the abuse. There are many reasons you may feel this way. Often abusers use psychological, emotional, and physical abuse along with apologies, promises, and affection to control their victims. You may feel confused and hold on to the hope that your abuser will change. Your abuser may ask for forgiveness, make promises to stop, act loving, or buy you gifts. Along with painful times, there may be loving moments and happy memories. Your abuser may be a good provider or parent.

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Once abuse starts, it usually gets worse if steps are not taken to stop it. Verbal and emotional abuse can turn into physical violence. If you are in an abusive relationship, ask for help. This may be hard, but know you are not alone. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you find resources in your area. Call toll-free: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the Web site at www.ndvh.org

Reasons to ask for help

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.

Domestic violence also affects children who witness abuse or who may experience dating abuse. Children who grow up in a violent home are likely to have more problems with depression, poor school performance, aggressive behavior, withdrawal, and complaints like stomachaches and headaches. Teens are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, have behavior problems, or try suicide.

Growing up in a violent home teaches children that violence is a normal way of life. It may increase the chance that they will be part of a violent relationship as adults, either as abusers or as victims.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brigid McCaw, MD, MS, MPH, FACP - Family Violence Prevention
Last Revised October 13, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 13, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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