27 February 2012

Domestic Violence in the Golden Years

Posted by Jody under: Women's Health .

For too many women, their “golden years” may be clouded over by domestic violence. Domestic violence is a major public health problem that has received increasing attention over the past 20 years, although it has existed much longer. Certain populations — pregnant women, adolescents, children of parents who were abused, mentally disturbed individuals and the elderly — may be at increased risk, especially if there is a family history of domestic violence.

While physical abuse is a well-recognized form of domestic violence, there are also other forms of domestic abuse, which often go recognized, that can be quite painful. These forms may include verbal abuse, intimidation, and not providing crucial things such as money, food, transportation or healthcare access. Also, progressive social isolation from one’s friends and loved ones may be considered a form of domestic violence.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, remember that you are not alone and it is not your fault. Women from all educational, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic walks of life are affected, and it can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. One study of domestic violence found that the women at the greatest risk of injury were those with a male partner who (in ascending order of importance):
Has less than a high school level education.
Has recently become unemployed.
Is often unemployed.
Uses illegal drugs.
Is a past or separated spouse or boyfriend.
Abuses alcohol.

The North American Menopause Society, along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has come out with guidelines to help determine whether a woman is a victim of domestic violence. These guidelines include questions such as:
Are you fearful of your partner or someone else?
Has anyone made you have unwilling sexual relations in the past year?
Have you been physically or emotionally abused by someone who is important to you, such as your significant other?

If you feel frightened or are in any jeopardy, remember that you are not alone and that there is help available. Your local women’s shelter or community center may be able to provide you with useful information.

ACOG offers some useful suggestions for an exit plan should you consider leaving an abusive relationship:
Have an extra set of house and car keys available for quiet access.
Bring all your important papers with you, such as driver’s license, photo ID, Social Security card, birth certificate, health insurance cards, medicine, checkbook, cash, and deed or lease to your house or apartment.

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