Emergency Department Presentations

In addition to being a direct cause of traumatic injury, domestic violence also contributes to other conditions frequently seen in emergency departments, such as depression, anxiety, hyperventilation, substance abuse, suicide attempts, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), complications of pregnancy, and headaches and other chronic pain syndromes.18 Both batterers and their victims may abuse alcohol and drugs. Abused individuals with chronic medical conditions may present with exacerbations of their illnesses because the batterer withholds their medications or because they are not allowed to keep appointments with their office-based physician. A history of exposure to violence in the home during childhood has recently been associated with an increase in health risks and health-risk behaviors in adults (such as depression, substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviors).19 It should be considered, therefore, a contributing factor to many conditions commonly treated in emergency departments.

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