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Mental Health effects of violence

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If you have been abused or attacked, you may feel terribly afraid, confused, shocked, angry, or emotionally numb. Every woman is different, and all these feelings are natural.

Experiencing abuse or an attack can lead to serious mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. If you have experienced violence, a mental health professional can help. A counselor or therapist can work with you to deal with your emotions, build self-esteem, and develop coping skills. You can ask your doctor for the name of a therapist, or search an online list of mental health services. Learn more about getting help for your mental health.

Some abused women try using drugs, alcohol, smoking, or overeating to cope, but this can lead to greater physical and emotional problems. Talk to a doctor, nurse, or therapist for help with these behaviors. Look for healthy ways to reduce stress. Try exercise, deep-breathing or other relaxation techniques, and reaching out for support to friends, family, and community groups.

Sometimes, violence that happened long ago still can affect you. Even if many years have passed since you were abused, you still can get help from a mental health professional.

If you know children who have been abused or witnessed abuse, you can help them. Listen to them, and show love and concern. Talk to a nurse, doctor, or therapist about professional help for them.

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More information on Mental Health effects of violence

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  • Mental Health - This section of womenshealth.gov provides information on taking care of your mental health throughout the different stages of your life.

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Content last updated May 18, 2011.

Resources last updated May 18, 2011.

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