Health Topics

Social family issues

Domestic Violence
National Library of Medicine
Abuse
Partner Abuse
Spouse Abuse
Violence
Battery
Intimate partner violence
Spousal abuse
What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a type of abuse. It can be the abuse of a spouse or partner, which is also known as intimate partner violence. Or it could be the abuse of a child, older relative, or other family member.

Domestic violence may include different types of abuse, such as:

  • Physical violence that can lead to injuries such as bruises or fractures (broken bones)
  • Sexual violence, including sexual assault
  • Emotional abuse, which includes threats, name-calling, put-downs, and humiliation. It can also involve controlling behavior, such as telling the victim how to act or dress and not letting them see family or friends.
  • Economic abuse, which involves controlling access to money
  • Stalking, which is repeated, unwanted contact that causes fear or concern for the safety of the victim. This can include watching or following the victim. The stalker may send repeated, unwanted phone calls or texts.
Who is affected by domestic violence?

It is hard to know exactly how common domestic violence is, because it's often not reported.

But we do know that anyone can be affected by it. Domestic violence can happen to men or women of all different ages. It affects people with all levels of income and education.

What are the signs that someone is a victim of domestic violence?

If you think that a loved one might be the victim of domestic violence, learn about the different types of abuse and watch for these signs:

Does your friend or loved one:

  • Have unexplained cuts or bruises?
  • Avoid friends, family, and favorite activities?
  • Make excuses for their partner's behavior?
  • Look uncomfortable or fearful around their partner?

Does your friend or loved one's partner:

  • Yell at or make fun of them?
  • Try to control them by making all the decisions?
  • Check up on them at work or school?
  • Force them to do sexual things they don't want to do?
  • Threaten to hurt himself or herself if the partner wants to break up?
What can I do if I am a victim of domestic violence?

Your safety is the most important concern. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can:

  • Get medical care if you have been injured or sexually assaulted
  • Call a helpline for free, anonymous help. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY).
  • Find out where to get help in your community. Contact local organizations that can help you.
  • Make a safety plan to leave. Domestic violence usually does not get better. Think about a safe place for you to go and all of the things that you will need when you leave.
  • Save the evidence. Keep evidence of abuse, such as pictures of your injuries or threatening emails or texts. Make sure that it is in a safe place the abuser cannot access.
  • Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a spiritual leader
  • Consider getting a restraining order to protect yourself
How can I help someone who is a victim of domestic violence?

Let your loved one know that being treated this way isn't healthy and that they are not to blame. You should:

  • Call 911 if there is immediate danger
  • Watch for the signs of abuse. Learn about the signs and keep track of the ones that you see.
  • Find out about local resources. Get the addresses and phone numbers of some local resources in your community. Then you'll be able to share the information if the person is ready for it.
  • Set up a time to talk. Make sure you can have your conversation in a safe, private place. Your loved one's partner may have access to his or her cell phone or computer, so be careful about sharing information over text or email.
  • Be specific about why you are worried. Describe the behaviors that concern you. Be as specific as possible when explaining why you are worried.
  • Plan for safety. If your loved one is ready to leave an abusive partner, help make a plan for getting out of the relationship as safely as possible. A domestic violence counselor can help with making a safety plan.
  • Be patient and do not judge. You should talk about your concerns with your loved one, but you need to understand that they may not be ready to talk about it. Let them know that you're available to talk at any time, and that you will listen without judging them.

Domestic Violence
Women
Injuries and Wounds
Social/Family Issues
What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is a type of abuse. It can be the abuse of a spouse or partner, which is also known as intimate partner violence. ...
Family Issues
National Library of Medicine
Stepfamilies

There are many kinds of families. Some have two parents, while others have a single parent. Sometimes there is no parent and grandparents raise grandchildren. Some children live in foster families, adoptive families, or in stepfamilies.

Families are much more than groups of people who share the same genes or the same address. They should be a source of love and support. This does not mean that everyone gets along all the time. Conflicts are a part of family life. Many things can lead to conflict, such as illness, disability, addiction, job loss, school problems, and marital issues. Listening to each other and working to resolve conflicts are important in strengthening the family.


Family
Interpersonal Relations
Social/Family Issues
There are many kinds of families. Some have two parents, while others have a single parent. Sometimes there is no parent and grandparents raise grandchildren. ...
Advance Directives
National Library of Medicine
Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders
Living Wills
Resuscitation Orders

What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.

A living will tells which treatments you want if you are dying or permanently unconscious. You can accept or refuse medical care. You might want to include instructions on:

  • The use of dialysis and breathing machines
  • If you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops
  • Tube feeding
  • Organ or tissue donation

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Advance Directives
Social/Family Issues
Personal Health Issues
What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell ...
Alzheimer's Caregivers
National Library of Medicine
Caregivers for Alzheimer's Disease

A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. It can be rewarding. It may help to strengthen connections to a loved one. You may feel fulfillment from helping someone else. But sometimes caregiving can be stressful and even overwhelming. This can be especially true when caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

AD is an illness that changes the brain. It causes people to lose the ability to remember, think, and use good judgment. They also have trouble taking care of themselves. Over time, as the disease gets worse, they will need more and more help. As a caregiver, it is important for you to learn about AD. You will want to know what happens to the person during the different stages of the disease. This can help you plan for the future, so that you will have all of the resources you will need to be able to take care of your loved one.

As a caregiver for someone with AD, your responsibilities can include:

  • Getting your loved one's health, legal, and financial affairs in order. If possible, include them in the planning while they can still make decisions. Later you will need to take over managing their finances and paying their bills.
  • Evaluating their house and making sure it's safe for their needs
  • Monitoring their ability to drive. You may want to hire a driving specialist who can test their driving skills. When it is no longer safe for your loved one to drive, you need to make sure that they stop.
  • Encouraging your loved one to get some physical activity. Exercising together may make it more fun for them.
  • Making sure that your loved one has a healthy diet
  • Helping with daily tasks like bathing, eating, or taking medicine
  • Doing housework and cooking
  • Running errands such as shopping for food and clothes
  • Driving them to appointments
  • Providing company and emotional support
  • Arranging medical care and making health decisions

As you care for your loved one with AD, don't ignore your own needs. Caregiving can be stressful, and you need to take care of your own physical and mental health.

At some point, you will not be able to do everything on your own. Make sure that you get help when you need it. There are many different services available, including:

  • Home care services
  • Adult day care services
  • Respite services, which provide short-term care for the person with AD
  • Federal and state government programs that can provide financial support and services
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Nursing homes, some of which have special memory care units for people with AD
  • Palliative and hospice care

You might consider hiring a geriatric care manager. They are specially trained professionals who can help you to find the right services for your needs.

NIH: National Institute on Aging


Caregivers
Alzheimer Disease
Older Adults
Brain and Nerves
Social/Family Issues
A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. It can be rewarding. It may help to strengthen connections to a loved one. ...
Bereavement
National Library of Medicine
Grief

Bereavement is the period of grief and mourning after a death. When you grieve, it's part of the normal process of reacting to a loss. You may experience grief as a mental, physical, social or emotional reaction. Mental reactions can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness and despair. Physical reactions can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems or illness.

How long bereavement lasts can depend on how close you were to the person who died, if the person's death was expected and other factors. Friends, family and faith may be sources of support. Grief counseling or grief therapy is also helpful to some people.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Bereavement
Mental Health and Behavior
Social/Family Issues
Bereavement is the period of grief and mourning after a death. When you grieve, it's part of the normal process of reacting to a loss. You may experience grief as ...
Bullying and Cyberbullying
National Library of Medicine
What is bullying?

Bullying is when a person or group repeatedly harms someone on purpose. It can be physical, social, and/or verbal. It is harmful to both the victims and the bullies, and it always involves:

  • Aggressive behavior.
  • A difference in power, meaning that the victim is weaker or is seen as weaker. For example, bullies may try to use physical strength, embarrassing information, or popularity to harm others.
  • Repetition, meaning it happens more than once or that it probably will happen again
What are the types of bullying?

There are three types of bullying:

  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person's body or belongings. Examples include hitting, kicking, and stealing or breaking someone's stuff.
  • Social bullying (also called relational bullying) hurts someone's reputation or relationships. Some examples are spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, and making someone feel left out.
  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things, including name-calling, taunting, and threatening
What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that happens through text messages or online. It could be through emails, social media, forums, or gaming. Some examples are:

  • Posting rumors on social media
  • Sharing embarrassing pictures or videos online
  • Sharing someone else's private information online (doxing)
  • Making threats against someone online
  • Creating fake accounts and posting information to embarrass someone

Certain types of cyberbullying can be illegal. The laws on cyberbullying are different from state to state.

How is cyberbullying different from bullying?

Cyberbullying is a type of bullying, but there are some differences between the two. Cyberbullying can be:

  • Anonymous - people can hide their identities when they are online or using a cell phone
  • Persistent - people can send messages instantly, at any time of the day or night
  • Permanent - a lot of electronic communication is permanent and public, unless it's reported and removed. A bad online reputation can affect getting into college, getting a job, and other areas of life. This applies to the bully as well.
  • Hard to notice - teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place
Who is at risk of being bullied?

Kids are at a higher risk of being bullied if they:

  • Are seen as different from their peers, such as being overweight or underweight, dressing differently, or being of a different race/ethnicity
  • Are seen as weak
  • Have depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem
  • Don't have many friends or are less popular
  • Don't socialize well with others
  • Have an intellectual or developmental disability
Who is at risk of being a bully?

There are two types of kids who are more likely to bully others:

  • Kids who are well-connected to peers, have social power, are overly worried about popularity, and like to be in charge of others
  • Kids who are more isolated from peers, may be depressed or anxious, have low self-esteem, are easily pressured by peers, and have trouble understanding other people's feelings

There are certain factors that make someone more likely to be a bully. They include:

  • Being aggressive or easily frustrated
  • Having trouble at home, such as violence or bullying in the home or having uninvolved parents
  • Having trouble following rules
  • Seeing violence positively
  • Having friends who bully others
What are the effects of bullying?

Bullying is a serious problem that causes harm. And it doesn't just hurt the person who is being bullied; it can also be harmful for the bullies and for any kids who witness the bullying.

Kids who are bullied can have problems at school and with their mental and physical health. They are at risk for:

  • Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These problems sometimes last into adulthood.
  • Health complaints, including headaches and stomachaches
  • Lower grades and test scores
  • Missing and dropping out of school

Kids who bully others have a higher risk for substance use, problems in school, and violence later in life.

Kids who witness bullying are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and have mental health problems. They may also miss or skip school.

What are the signs of being bullied?

Often, kids who are being bullied don't report it. They may fear a backlash from the bully, or they may think that no one cares. Sometimes they feel too ashamed to talk about it. So it is important to know the signs of a bullying problem:

  • Depression, loneliness, or anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Headaches, stomachaches, or poor eating habits
  • Disliking school, not wanting to go to school, or getting worse grades than before
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
How do you help someone who is being bullied?

To help a child who is being bullied, support the child and address the bullying behavior:

  • Listen and focus on the child. Learn what's been going on and show you want to help.
  • Assure the child that bullying is not his/her fault
  • Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
  • Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.
  • Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization should be part of the solution.
  • Follow up. Bullying may not end overnight. Make sure that the child knows that you are committed to making it stop.
  • Make sure that the bully knows that his or her behavior is wrong and harms others
  • Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Make it clear to everyone that the bullying will not be tolerated.

Department of Health and Human Services


Bullying
Cyberbullying
Children and Teenagers
Social/Family Issues
What is bullying? Bullying is when a person or group repeatedly harms someone on purpose. It can be physical, social, and/or verbal. It is harmful to ...
Caregiver Health
National Library of Medicine
Caring for the caregiver
What is a caregiver?

A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. The person who needs help may be a child, an adult, or an older adult. They may need help because of an injury, chronic illness, or disability.

Some caregivers are informal caregivers. They are usually family members or friends. Other caregivers are paid professionals. Caregivers may give care at home or in a hospital or other health care setting. Sometimes they are caregiving from a distance. The types of tasks that caregivers do may include:

  • Helping with daily tasks like bathing, eating, or taking medicine
  • Arranging activities and medical care
  • Making health and financial decisions
How does caregiving affect the caregiver?

Caregiving can be rewarding. It may help to strengthen connections to a loved one. You may feel fulfillment from helping someone else. But caregiving may also be stressful and sometimes even overwhelming. Caregiving may involve meeting complex demands without any training or help. You may also be working and have children or others to care for. To meet all of the demands, you might be putting your own needs and feelings aside. But that's not good for your long-term health. But you need to make sure that you are also taking care of yourself.

What is caregiver stress?

Many caregivers are affected by caregiver stress. This is the stress that comes from the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. The signs include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone, isolated, or deserted by others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated or angered
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Having headaches or body aches often
  • Turning to unhealthy behaviors like smoking or drinking too much alcohol
How can caregiver stress affect my health?

Long-term caregiver stress may put you at risk for many different health problems. Some of these problems can be serious. They include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • A weak immune system
  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis. Depression and obesity can raise the risk of these diseases even more.
  • Problems with short-term memory or paying attention
What can I do to prevent or relieve caregiver stress?

Taking steps to prevent or relieve caregiver stress may help prevent health problems. Remember that if you feel better, you can take better care of your loved one. It will also be easier to focus on the rewards of caregiving. Some ways to help yourself include:

  • Learning better ways to help your loved one. For examples, hospitals offer classes that can teach you how to care for someone with an injury or illness.
  • Finding caregiving resources in your community to help you. Many communities have adult daycare services or respite services. Using one of these can give you a break from your caregiving duties.
  • Asking for and accepting help. Make a list of ways others can help you. Let helpers choose what they would like to do. For instance, someone might sit with the person you care for while you do an errand. Someone else might pick up groceries for you.
  • Joining a support group for caregivers. A support group can allow you to share stories, pick up caregiving tips, and get support from others who face the same challenges as you do.
  • Being organized to make caregiving more manageable. Make to-do lists and set a daily routine.
  • Staying in touch with family and friends. It's important for you to have emotional support.
  • Taking care of your own health. Try to find time to be physically active on most days of the week, choose healthy foods, and get enough sleep. Make sure that you keep up with your medical care such as regular checkups and screenings.
  • Considering taking a break from your job, if you also work and are feeling overwhelmed. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for relatives. Check with your human resources office about your options.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Caregivers
Social/Family Issues
What is a caregiver? A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. The person who needs help may be a child, an adult, or ...
Caregivers
National Library of Medicine

A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. The person who needs help may be a child, an adult, or an older adult. They may need help because of an injury or disability. Or they may have a chronic illness such as Alzheimer's disease or cancer.

Some caregivers are informal caregivers. They are usually family members or friends. Other caregivers are paid professionals. Caregivers may give care at home or in a hospital or other health care setting. Sometimes they are caregiving from a distance. The types of tasks that caregivers do may include:

  • Helping with daily tasks like bathing, eating, or taking medicine
  • Doing housework and cooking
  • Running errands such as shopping for food and clothes
  • Driving the person to appointments
  • Providing company and emotional support
  • Arranging activities and medical care
  • Making health and financial decisions

Caregiving can be rewarding. It may help to strengthen connections to a loved one. You may feel fulfillment from helping someone else. But caregiving may also be stressful and sometimes even overwhelming. You may be "on call" for 24 hours a day. You may also be working outside the home and taking care of children. So you need to make sure that you are not ignoring your own needs. You have to take care of your own physical and mental health as well. Because when you feel better, you can take better care of your loved one. It will also be easier to focus on the rewards of caregiving.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Caregivers
Social/Family Issues
Health System
A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. The person who needs help may be a child, an adult, or an older adult. They ...
Child Abuse
National Library of Medicine
Abuse
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Violence

Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse.

Most abused children suffer greater emotional than physical damage. An abused child may become depressed. He or she may withdraw, think of suicide or become violent. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away or abuse others.

Child abuse is a serious problem. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the police or your local child welfare agency.


Child Abuse
Children and Teenagers
Injuries and Wounds
Social/Family Issues
Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual ...
Disabilities
National Library of Medicine

Disabilities make it harder to do normal daily activities. They may limit what you can do physically or mentally, or they can affect your senses. Disability doesn't mean unable, and it isn't a sickness. Most people with disabilities can - and do - work, play, learn, and enjoy full, healthy lives. Mobility aids and assistive devices can make daily tasks easier.

About one in every five people in the United States has a disability. Some people are born with one. Others have them as a result of an illness or injury. Some people develop them as they age. Almost all of us will have a disability at some point in our lives.

Department of Health and Human Services


Health Services for Persons with Disabilities
Disabled Persons
Social/Family Issues
Disabilities make it harder to do normal daily activities. They may limit what you can do physically or mentally, or they can affect your senses. Disability doesn' ...