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Domestic Violence - Domestic Violence and Your Health

Domestic violence is the most common cause of injury to women ages 18 to 44 in the United States. After abuse starts, it usually continues. And it's likely to get worse over time. Abuse that starts with a slap may build up over time to kicking and shoving and finally choking.

The repeated injury and stress of living in a violent relationship can cause long-lasting health problems, such as:

Abused women have a higher risk of major health problems. Women who are abused are also more likely to smoke or abuse alcohol, which can also lead to health problems.5 Other health problems linked to sexual abuse include sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS) and unintended pregnancies.

If you're pregnant

Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women who are in abusive relationships. Abuse may get worse or even start during pregnancy. As many as 4% to 8% of all pregnant women are in abusive relationships.2 Problems during pregnancy, such as low weight gain, anemia, infections, and bleeding, are higher for these women.

Babies who are born to abused women also suffer. Abuse during pregnancy has been shown to increase the baby's risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and death.2

There's no excuse for abuse. If you are being abused, it's time to get help. You deserve to be safe. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 08, 2012
    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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