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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Injuries and Wounds > Physical Abuse
      Category : Health Centers > Abuse and Violence

Physical Abuse

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Physical abuse is forceful behavior that can result in injury to another person. An abuser uses beatings to control the victim. The abuse rarely occurs just one time. Physical abuse may be accompanied by emotional abuse. A recent study of girls in 9th through 12th grade found that one out of five girls were physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

A victim of physical abuse might be:

  • assaulted with a weapon
  • bitten
  • burned, often with a cigarette
  • choked
  • kicked
  • pushed or thrown
  • slapped, hit, or punched
  • tied down
  • A victim may also suffer from being shaken. When a person is severely shaken, the injury can cause clots and swelling in the brain. This is much like shaken baby syndrome. Men, women, and children can all be victims of physical abuse. Victims can be any age and from any ethnic, religious, or economic group.

    What are the causes and risks of the injury?

    While there is no specific type of person who is at risk for abuse, certain factors do put some people at greater risk. These risk factors include:

  • being a drug or alcohol abuser or having a partner who is one
  • being a female, especially between the ages of 17 and 34
  • being in the first 5 years of a new marriage or a live-in relationship
  • being in a marriage or relationship in which one person is more dominant than the other
  • being pregnant
  • being socially and emotionally isolated
  • being unemployed
  • living in poverty, living in poor housing conditions, moving often
  • Experts know that adolescents who have been abused are at higher risk for other health problems. However, we do not yet know whether the health problems came before the abuse, or if the abuse increased the risk for the health problem. These problems include the following:

  • adolescent pregnancy
  • alcohol use, including binge drinking
  • cocaine abuse
  • risky sexual behaviors, including intercourse before age 15 and multiple partners
  • smoking
  • suicidal attempts or thoughts
  • unhealthy weight management, including eating disorders


    Next section


    Physical Abuse: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Elizabeth Smith, BA
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/29/01

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