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What are the medical considerations for a victim of domestic violence?

Ruth Politi, MSN
Nursing

Domestic violence is also known as intimate partner violence (IPV). It is important for the medical team to assess obvious trauma along with subtle complaints that may alert the medical team to signs of domestic violence. It's important for the Emergency Department to provide a safe environment during treatment, although this is only temporary. The medical team will make sure they can ask the victim questions in private. The questions are often direct and they will ask if the victim knows the person who caused the injuries. It is essential that all of the injuries are carefully documented by the medical personnel. They may ask for permission to photograph injuries or torn clothing. It is essential that the victim be informed that violence may escalate and the victim needs to develop a plan. An assessment will be done to measure the risk of further harm to the victim. These questions may be uncomfortable, but they must be answered honestly. One of the goals of emergency personnel is to put the victim in touch with a domestic violence shelter if they do not have a safe place to go. The most important consideration is to make sure the victim feels cared for and respected. The victim's choices must be respected as much as the law allows. If the healthcare team is mandated to report the crime, then this must be explained to the victim with an effort to minimize any safety concerns expressed by the victim.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.