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Identifying abuse

The effects of domestic violence on victims are far-reaching and can emerge in many different ways. Awareness of these effects will not only help you better understand a woman’s experience, but will help you better identify women who are being abused.

Possible indicators of domestic violence

Visible physical injury including:

  • bruises, lacerations, burns, human bite marks, and fractures-especially of the eyes, nose, teeth and jaw;
  • injuries during pregnancy, miscarriage, or premature births;
  • unexplained delay in seeking treatment for injuries; and
  • multiple injuries in different stages of healing.

Illnesses that abused women may develop include:

  • stress-related illnesses such as headaches, backaches, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and fatigue;
  • anxiety-related conditions such as heart palpitations, hyperventilation, and “panic attacks”; and less commonly,
  • depression, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and alcohol or other drug problems.

“Presenting problems” are often related to or a result of domestic violence and include:

  • marital or “family” problems;
  • alcohol or other drug addiction; and
  • “mental health” problems.

In the workplace, the effects of domestic violence can emerge as:

  • lost productivity, chronic absenteeism or lateness, or requests for excessive amounts of time off;
  • on-the-job harassment by abuser, either in person or over the phone; and
  • poor employment history, or loss of employment.