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Be aware of the signs of domestic abuse

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Domestic violence can manifest in many ways Domestic violence can manifest in many ways

I'm happy to welcome you to this edition of Independent Nurse. To start I'd like to thank Sarah Wild for the fantastic work she did as the editor of IN; she shaped its feel and content for almost a decade and spearheaded our 'No Tokenism' campaign to have primary care nurses taken more seriously in the development of clinical commissioning. She is greatly missed. I currently have the privilege to keep Sarah's seat warm until our appointed editor takes over later next month. I am also pleased to announce that Seeta Bhardwa has joined as the IN news reporter. Having started just a few weeks ago, she is already doing a sterling job. Both Seeta and I are keen to hear from readers with feedback on the magazine and any issues you want to raise. Email us at

While putting together the copy for this issue, one topic jumped out at me – domestic violence. A recent celebrity case, which involved Nigella Lawson and her allegedly violent, soon to be ex-husband, Charles Saatchi, received much media attention and sparked a public debate about domestic abuse among the rich and famous. Although sad for all involved, perhaps this case will help dispel the myth that only poorer socio-economic groups or women from ethnic minorities are affected by partner abuse. As Polly Neate points out absolutely any woman can be affected by domestic violence, and practice and community nurses are well placed to identify vulnerable women.

To start, nurses need to be aware of the symptoms of domestic abuse – anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches and hearing loss, among many other signs. But, to spot and interpret these signs correctly, nurses need to be giving appropriate training so they can approach vulnerable patients confidently and sensitively. Educating nurses and other health professionals about domestic abuse seems to me a key issue in the current debate.

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