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Nurses urged to look out for signs of domestic violence

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It is time for nurses across all settings to ‘get to grips’ with identifying and acting on evidence of domestic violence and abuse, according to the RCN.

Speaking at a seminar on the issue in London last week, Ann Jackson, the RCN’s learning and development facilitator, said nurses had a key role to play in supporting women who require NHS services as a result of domestic violence.

She has helped develop a CD-ROM for nurses to provide them with information on the realities of violence against women, and called for nurses’ views on the issue and the new resource.  

Nurses are being asked to identify the areas of violence and abuse against women on which they require more information, and for their examples of good and bad practice in dealing with the survivors of such abuse. This information will be used to further develop and tailor the resource.

‘The time has really come for nurses to get to grips with this agenda and this is one way of doing it,’ she said.

Also speaking at the event was detective inspector Kevin Armstrong from the City of Westminster Community Safety Unit, which investigates hate crimes, including domestic violence, in central London. He said nurses had an important part to play in prosecuting those who abused women.

‘Whether a health visitor, or in A&E, or a nurse in a GP surgery, it’s important that people are identified as victims of domestic abuse,’ he said. ‘They don’t have to report it to the police – there are a number of other agencies who offer different solutions – but being aware of it is the primary thing.

‘The next most important thing is to gather evidence. Giving evidence in court as a professional is very likely to be accepted, and it’s important to note things down at the time they first see the patient,’ he added.

DI Armstrong said healthcare staff had a particularly important role to play in ‘victimless’ prosecutions, where perpetrators were prosecuted without testimony from the victim because that person did not want – or was too scared – to give evidence.

Comments on the CD-ROM should be sent to diversityteam@rcn.org.uk and must be received by 30 April.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I wholly agree that nurses play an important role in supporting victims of domestic violence. However, this drive is only focusing on female victims. Male victims of domestic violence often do not report it because of the stigma attached so recognition and support from nurses could be of paramount importance to them too. I am not saying that one sex is more important than another, quite the opposite in fact. There are very few facilities available to support male victims. So by changing the terminology and focus it is, perhaps, one way we can stop making this a single-sex issue. The issue of domestic abuse needs to be tackled whoever the victim is.

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  • It is correct that nurses can play a vital role.

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