Ending the Cycle of Abuse: What Behavioral Health Professionals Need to Know about Domestic Violence

By Furniss, Kathleen K. | Behavioral Healthcare, February 2006 | Go to article overview

Ending the Cycle of Abuse: What Behavioral Health Professionals Need to Know about Domestic Violence


Furniss, Kathleen K., Behavioral Healthcare


Domestic violence is a major public health problem with physical and psychological sequelae for women, as well as a serious violation of human rights. One in every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. (1) The home is considered a place where people should be safe, but it may be one of society's most violent social institutions. Intimate partner violence or abuse is a pattern of coercive control that may result in physical and/or sexual assault and may include emotional abuse and economic control. One person uses abuse to exert power and control over another in a domestic relationship. Although women can be abusive, and abuse does exist in same-sex relationships, the vast majority of abuse is perpetrated by men against their female partners. (2)

Behavioral health therapists and counselors can make a difference in this epidemic and save lives by identifying and treating people in abusive relationships. By asking simple questions and providing information, death may be prevented and injuries and chronic stress may be lessened.

The Scope of the Problem

Between three and four million women are battered every year in the United States. Between 8 and 14% of all American women report physical abuse in the previous year by a husband, boyfriend, or ex-partner. Research indicates that the actual annual prevalence may be between 4 and 14%. (3) Incidence may be higher among poor women. Lifetime prevalence is reported between 33 and 39%.

All women are at risk. Leaving the relationship or home doesn't always guarantee safety, as women may be stalked and are often in more danger when they leave an abusive relationship.

Battering often escalates in frequency and severity during pregnancy. Abuse may be the biggest cause of maternal mortality in this country. Krulewitch et al reported that 11% more homicides occur among pregnant women as compared with nonpregnant women. (4) Teen pregnancies are particularly susceptible to abuse, and as many as 29% of pregnant teens experience abuse. (5) Abuse can result in miscarriages, pregnancy complications, and postpartum depression. Twenty-five to 45% of battered women have been battered during pregnancy.

Sexual abuse often occurs in abusive relationships. Vaginitis, urinary tract infection, substance abuse, depression, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pelvic pain, and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV may result. (6)

Abused women often have more functional gastrointestinal illnesses, pelvic pain, and incidences of surgery in their lifetime than women who don't experience abuse. Teens and college students are also susceptible to intimate partner violence, with prevalence rates ranging from 12 to 22%, according to experts. (7) Battering occurs in psychiatric patients, and abuse can result in suicide or homicide. (6)

Mental health professionals may observe signs of abuse among their patients. The patient may appear physically well, but pain, depression, and anxiety are common responses to the chronic stress experienced in an abusive relationship. Signs to look for commonly found among abused women include:

* eating disorders or appetite changes

* weight problems

* dizziness

* fatigue

* joint pain

* back pain

* sleep problems

* headaches (8)

Women and children affected by domestic violence may develop PTSD. (9) The range of mental health effects of domestic violence includes:

* shame

* guilt

* anxiety

* low self-esteem

* insomnia

* suicidality

* homicidal thoughts

While some women approach healthcare providers with these issues, others approach counselors or spiritual advisers. Some may be too embarrassed to admit to the violence, while other women may not feel safe discussing domestic violence, and some women don't seek assistance at all.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ending the Cycle of Abuse: What Behavioral Health Professionals Need to Know about Domestic Violence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.