The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has developed new guidelines to help nurses and midwives identify and care for patients who have experienced domestic abuse.
While the resource is designed to help nurses and midwives support their patients, it also recognises that nurses and midwives may be victims themselves. Recent research from the Cavell Nurses' Trust found that 14% of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants have experienced abusive home situations, compared with 4.4% nationally.
The resource includes information about ways to seek help and how to stay safe online. There is also information for perpertrators.
'Domestic abuse can have a devastating effect on individuals and families, however the signs are not always obvious and sometimes a subtle observation or sensitive question from a nurse or midwife can be a route to recognising someone who may be vulnerable and afraid,' said Carmel Bagness, the professional lead for midwifery and women's health.
The resource includes key indicators for identifying cases of domestic abuse, using NICE standards and links to UK-wide guidance and publications.
Domestic abuse can take on many forms including verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, physical and sexual assault including rape and homicide and can impact men, women and children.
'The new resource will be updated regularly to reflect changes in national guidance, and a pocket guide for healthcare professionals, to better support victims of domestic abuse, is planned for 2017,' added Ms Bagness.
At RCN Congress this year, RCN members discussed the support available for nursing staff when identifying cases of domestic abuse, in a debate proposed by emergency nurse, Amanda Burston.
Last year 1.1 million British women were the victims of domestic abuse and two women a week were killed by their partners. Data from the Office for National Statistics estimates that and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and it is likely to be under reported.