Your Health

Abuse & Domestic Violence

Recognizing Abuse

In the last year have you been hit, slapped, kicked, or yelled at by anyone you know? Do you feel scared or isolated? Does your partner control your activities? If you are the victim of abuse, there are some important steps to take to safely end the abuse.

Develop a Safety Plan

A safety plan is a strategy to get out of an abusive situation. Though you can’t control your partner’s violent actions, you can control how you prepare for your safety.

During a Violent Incident:

  • Stay out of rooms with potential weapons (kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc.) and stay in rooms that have an exit.
  • Keep your purse and keys near by, and always keep a key hidden in a safe place.
  • You may need to tell neighbors to call the police if they hear suspicious noise coming from your home, and you should make sure your kids know how to call 911.

Men often become more violent when they think their partner is leaving, so be extra careful when planning to leave.

  • Several days before you plan to leave, take money, extra keys, clothes and copies of important papers to a trusted friend’s home or a safe house.
  • Make sure you take all bank cards and account information, insurance forms, school papers, medical records, immigration documents, welfare papers, legal documents and clothing for you and your children.
  • Determine who might be able to loan you money or give you a place to stay.
  • Inform your children’s schools of who can and cannot pick up your kids from school.


Resilience is the process of "bouncing back" from bad experiences. Some people think this is a natural trait, but really its behaviors, thoughts and actions that anyone can develop. The key to successful resilience is having a caring support group of friends and family.

10 Ways to Build Resilience

  • Stay close with friends and family members; don’t be afraid to accept their help and support.
  • Avoid seeing crises as unfixable problems.
  • Accept that change is a part of life.
  • Move toward your goals.
  • Don’t just wish for something to go away, take steps to deal with it.
  • Look for opportunities to help you learn more about yourself, your relationships, your spirituality.
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself and trust your instincts and your ability to solve problems.
  • Focus on the big picture to avoid blowing an event out of proportion.
  • Be hopeful and focus on what you want instead of what you fear.
  • Take care of yourself.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation, call the Hillsborough County Domestic Violence 24–Hour Hotline at (813) 247–SAFE or (813) 247–7233.

Anger & Stress Management

Stress and Anger are Normal

We all have occasional frustrations as a result of dealing with difficult friends, family members, co–workers or events that we can’t control. However, anger and stress management are not the same thing.

Anger management means learning to control your response to certain events or situations that upset you, while stress management means making lifestyle changes to avoid stressful situations. Even though you can’t get rid of these problems, you can take control of how these things affect you.

Dealing with Anger

You may have trouble dealing with anger if you become increasingly irritable or take unhealthy risks like drinking too much or abusing drugs. To prevent anger from building up, try these techniques:

  • Talk about your feelings. Letting someone close to you know when something is bothering you can prevent you from losing your temper.
  • Think before you act. Anticipate the consequences of your words and actions before you say or do something out of anger.
  • Balance your work, home and school life.
  • Take care of your health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Remember, exercise is great for your physical health and stress relief!
  • Listen to self–help books on tape (available at the Public Library.)
  • Listen to relaxing instrumental music.

Dealing with Stress

Unlike anger responses which tend to follow an upsetting event, stress is a feeling that builds up over time. We all feel stress when we have too much to do, too many responsibilities, too much work and feel exhausted. Our bodies help us cope with these situations by making stress hormones. To reduce your stress level, try these techniques:

  • Learn to say no. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t take on any more tasks.
  • Try to relax yourself with techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or massage.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.

Instructor Tips:
Discuss the difference between anger and stress management. Emphasize how successful management of both is a key to maintaining mental health.


Depression is a common illness that negatively effects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Although it’s very treatable, many cases go untreated because they’re not diagnosed.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling restless or annoyed
  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Crying a lot
  • No energy
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Lost interest in favorite activities
  • Withdrawal from friends or family

Here are some tips to help you deal with depression:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Stop putting pressure on yourself
  • Ask for help around the house and with nighttime feedings
  • Have a friend or family member help you for part of the day
  • Talk about how you’re feeling
  • Don’t spend lots of time alone
  • Leave the house
  • Spend quality time with your partner
  • Talk with other mothers
  • Join a local support group

Please see your physician if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is when a caregiver, parent, spouse or partner uses abusive behavior to control the behavior of a child or partner. Women who are victims of domestic violence are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Domestic Violence Includes

  • Physical abuse like hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, shaking, throwing objects, threats or physical restraint
  • Emotional abuse like name calling, verbal attacks, humiliation, destroying personal items, harming pets or extreme jealousy
  • Sexual abuse like unwanted touching or forced sexual acts
  • Economic abuse like controlling access to money or forbidding the partner to work

If you are a Victim of Domestic Violence

  • GO TO A SAFE PLACE– this can be the home of a friend or relative where the abuser cannot find you or an emergency shelter.
  • Come up with a safety plan of what you need to do and what to bring with you in an emergency situation.
  • Take your children with you.
  • Don’t forget to bring your house keys, money and important documents with you.
  • File an injunction for protection (restraining order) either at the Emergency Shelter or by contacting the Hillsborough County Domestic Violence 24–hour Hotline at (813) 247–SAFE or (813) 247– 7233

Instructor Tips:
Inform the participant that 2 million women are abused in the U.S. each year and domestic violence is a crime in all states.

Eating Disorders

There is a strong link between eating disorders and depression. There are three major eating disorders that often go along with depression and anxiety.

  • Anorexia Nervosa

    People with Anorexia have a distorted body image, which causes them to see themselves as overweight even though they’re dangerously thin. They usually refuse to eat and exercise compulsively
  • Bulimia Nervosa

    People with Bulimia eat huge amounts of food, then purge (by throwing up, taking laxatives, enemas, and/or exercising) in order to get rid of the calories they just consumed. They are usually ashamed of this habit, but continue doing it because tension is removed when their stomachs are empty again.
  • Binge Eating

    Much like Bulimia, people who suffer from binge eating have out–of–control eating spells. However, they do not use a method of purging to get rid of the calories.

If you think you are depressed or have an eating disorder, contact your doctor to be diagnosed.

Handling Anger & Stress

Anger and stress are normal emotions, but they can cause lots of problems at work, home and in your personal life.


The natural way to deal with anger is to respond aggressively. However, unexpressed or pent up anger can also lead to aggressive behavior. Anger management tricks can help you suppress and redirect anger.

Here are some steps you can try the next time you get angry:

  • Take a long, deep breath.
  • Slowly repeat a calm word like "relax" or "take it easy" to yourself.
  • Do a small exercise or stretch to help calm yourself down.
  • Remind yourself that getting angry won’t fix anything.

Stress and Pregnancy

Stress is the way your body reacts to something that is unusual or dangerous. It can lead to medical problems like high blood pressure or depression.

Here are some ways to deal with stress:

  • Remove yourself from the situation that is stressing you out
  • Have fun
  • Talk to someone about what’s going on
  • Avoid things that you know make you feel stressed
  • Avoid making major life decisions
  • Take a break, get comfortable and rest

Sometimes feelings of stress and anger can linger, even after you’ve tried the above techniques.

Here are a couple ways to deal with longer lasting stress and anger:

  • Talk to someone about your feelings
  • Take care of your health
  • Learn to say no so that you don’t get overwhelmed
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume
  • Help someone else (this gives you a sense of control and takes your mind off of the situation)

Mental Health

Key Concepts/Main Points

  • Assist client in listing and understanding how to balance the three areas of emotional health.
  • Know how to recognize stress and learn methods to help manage the symptoms.
  • Understand and be able to identify domestic violence.
  • Understand the difference between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What do you do when you’re stressed? How do you know you are stressed?
  • Will you describe the last time you were mad?
  • Tell me about the last time you and your partner got into a fight.
  • Within the last year, have you been hit, slapped, kicked or otherwise physically injured by another person?

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is the term used to describe a person’s overall emotional health. A person who is considered emotionally healthy has a balance between his or her physical, spiritual and environmental health. This allows the person to feel good about herself, have positive feelings towards others, express feelings, verbalize thoughts, enjoy time with family and friends and develop a good support system for requesting and receiving help.

Instructor Tips:
Section Goal: Help participant recognize good emotional health and stress management techniques as well as negative physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse.

Motherhood and Mental Health

What are Baby Blues?

Baby Blues is the name given to the sadness that mothers feel in the first few days or weeks after giving birth. This condition, which occurs in about 80 percent of women, is believed to be caused by a combination of stress and hormonal changes associated with having a new baby. Symptoms often include: sudden mood swings, sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, trouble sleeping and feelings of loneliness. The symptoms usually go away with time, so women should seek medical advice if these feelings do not disappear after two weeks.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition that can occur anytime within the first year after giving birth; symptoms are similar to the baby blues but do not go away within a few weeks time. About 15 to 20 percent of new mothers require treatment before being able to function normally throughout the day. This number increases to 50 to 80 percent if the mother has previously had PPD. If untreated, PPD can get worse and in one to two percent of cases, develop into psychosis.

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a rare, yet severe, mental illness that usually occurs within six weeks of delivery. Symptoms include: hallucinations and loss of reality, delusions, inability to sleep, unsettled or angry feelings, unusual behavior and suicidal or homicidal thoughts. If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately.

Instructor Tips:
Explain the difference between baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Emphasize the fact that many mothers experience these feelings and that there is nothing to feel embarrassed or guilty about. Make sure your participant knows that there are many different ways to get help.

Post–Partum Depression

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depres–sion (PPD) is a psycho–logical disorder experi–enced days, weeks, and even months after deliv–ery. PPD is not com–pletely understood, but it is recognized that psy–chological, biochemical, and hormonal factors contribute to the disor–der. PPD is fairly com–mon, affecting at least 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.

What are the symptoms of PPD?

  • Exhaustion
  • Severe insomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of sexual interest
  • Crying spells without obvious cause
  • Guilt, sadness, and anger
  • Despair and/ or feelings of worthlessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Desperation or feelings of hopelessness
  • Withdrawal
  • Obsessive/compulsive behavior

Is PPD the "baby blues"?/h2>

PPD and "baby blues" are not the same. "Baby blues" is charac–terized by an extreme sense of letdown that lasts approximately two weeks. PPD is more complicated and longer lasting. PPD does not resolve itself within a few weeks or a month, and if left untreated, it may lead to a more se–vere anxiety / panic dis–order. Effective treat–ment does not include tranquilizers or anti–anxiety medication be–cause these serve only as temporary relief and do not correct the biochemi–cal abnormalities associ–ated with PPD.

PPD should not be confused with postpar–tum psychosis. Postpar–tum psychosis is charac–terized by hallucina–tions, delusions, and thoughts of suicide or of harming the infant. A woman who experiences these symptoms should find a capable adult to care for her infant and seek help immediately.

What kinds of treat–ments are available?

A professional treat–ment plan may include medical and psychiatric evaluations, psycho–therapy and group therapy. Medications such as antidepressants can also be prescribed. New antidepressants act more specifically toward PPD and pose no known threat to breastfed ba–bies. Seeking additional support from family and friends is also recom–mended. Local support programs can also assist mothers experiencing PPD.