Is your relationship harming your health? Help is available for victims of domestic violence.

Sally Hess of GBMC's Domestic Violence Program discusses the impact of the holiday season on relationships and health.


Domestic Violence (DV), also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior used by an intimate partner in order to gain power and control over the other person.  One in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.  And no one is immune -- DV crosses all racial, economic and cultural barriers, and occurs in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. 

Although there is no conclusive evidence linking the holidays with an increase in DV or IPV, the added stresses of the holidays can put a strain on any relationship – and violence certainly doesn’t stop during the holidays.  The abuse and violence experienced by victims may be exacerbated (although not caused) by financial stress and alcohol consumption that often accompany the holidays.  All the more reason to reach out for help during this holiday season.  

DV / IPV can take many forms:

  • Physical abuse:  hitting, kicking, scratching, punching, strangulation (choking), pushing, beating, slapping
  • Sexual abuse:  forcing sex on an unwilling partner, demanding sexual acts the victim does not want to perform, degrading treatment
  • Emotional abuse:  criticizing and/or humiliating the victim, name-calling, isolating the victim, not respecting the victim’s feelings, rights and opinions
  • Financial abuse:  not paying bills, refusing to give the victim money, interfering with the victims ability to work or go to school


And DV/IVP can impact your health.  Victims are more likely to suffer from:

  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Headaches and body aches
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stomach problems
  • Sexually transmitted infections and HIV
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Pregnancy complications


As healthcare providers, we care about all aspects of a person’s health, and domestic abuse is no exception.  Telling your health care provider about relationship abuse is an important step towards safety and wellness.

GBMC is now the seventh hospital in the state of Maryland to provide a hospital-based domestic violence program for its patients, staff, visitors, and the community at large.  There are two main goals of the program at GBMC:

  1. To provide 24/7 crisis response to offer support, education, safety planning, referral to community resources and follow-up.
  2. To educate staff on the effects of DV on health and how to best identify and support patients and co-workers experiencing IPV.


HELP IS AVAILABLE -- if you or anyone you know is suffering in an abusive relationship, please reach out for help.  Abuse is not your fault and you don’t need to face it alone.

Baltimore County Domestic Violence

& Sexual Assault Hotline:                                      410-828-6390

GBMC SAFE Domestic Violence Program:          443-849-3323

National Domestic Violence Hotline:                    800-799-SAFE

Turn Around                                                        443-279-0379

Sally Hess, R.N., SANE-A, MPH

Coordinator, Domestic Violence Program

Greater Baltimore Medical Center


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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