This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs need a system for domestic violence

From Dr Clarissa Fabre, Buxted, Sussex

One in three women globally suffers physical or sexual abuse from a partner, and 38% of all murdered women are killed by their partners.

GPs are likely to be one of the first contacts for these women. Certain clinical conditions have been associated with intimate partner violence – depression, anxiety, alcohol and other substance abuse, chronic pelvic pain, chronic unexplained pain, chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, and repeated health consultations with no diagnosis. Pregnancy is a time of particularly high risk. A major problem is that once abuse has been identified, most doctors are not aware of the appropriate referral pathways.

What is needed is training for health professionals in offering care to individuals, a basic knowledge of relevant laws and existing support services. Establishing a practical system to deal with this problem at a national level is an urgent challenge.