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Health Care Response to Domestic ViolenceA pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors including physical sexual and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partnersDomestic violence is virtually impossible to measure with absolute precision due to numerous complications including the societal stigma that inhibits victims from disclosing their abuse and the varying definitions of abuse used from study to study Estimates range from 960000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse boyfriend or girlfriend per year1 to 39 million women who are physically abused per year2On July 22 1997 UNICEF released The Progress of Nations 1997 which found that a quarter to half of women around the world have suffered violence from an intimate partner3Nearly one-third of American women 31 percent report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey4Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year5While women are less likely than men to be victims of violence crimes overall women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner6Injuries and Other Health Consequences of Domestic Violence The US Department of Justice reported that 37 of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse boyfriend or girlfriend7Domestic violence is repetitive in nature about 1 in 5 women victimized by their spouse or ex-spouse reported that they had been a victim of a series of at least 3 assaults in the last 6 months8The level of injury resulting from domestic violence is severe of 218 women presenting at a metropolitan emergency department with injuries due to domestic violence 28 required hospital admission and 13 required major medical treatment 40 had previously required medical care for abuse9In 1996 approximately
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