Across England and Wales, 30 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men have experienced domestic abuse at some point. Two women die a week as a result of domestic violence, and many more suffer long term emotional, physical and psychological damage.1
The very nature of what healthcare professionals do, in particular nurses, puts them in a strong position to offer support to both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. Nurses are often the first point of contact for patients. They are also one of very few trusted people who might find themselves alone with a patient, away from their partners, creating an opportunity for individuals to disclose personal information. In their day-to-day work nurses get a unique insight into patients' lives. Health visitors and district nurses in particular are able to witness evidence that most others can't through visits to the home.
People who experience domestic abuse seek healthcare more regularly than the general population because of the physical and mental health effects it causes. A study showed that in East London general practices 41 per cent of women attending had experienced domestic abuse at some point and 17 per cent had experienced violence within the past year.2 Another survey showed that among psychiatric care in-patients, 18 per cent of women had experienced physical violence in