Women want to be asked about domestic violence

January 31, 2002

Reported frequency of domestic violence: cross sectional survey of women attending general practice BMJ Volume 324, pp 271-4

Editorial: Preventing domestic violence BMJ Volume 324, pp 253-4


Doctors may be able to identify women who experience domestic violence by asking them if they are afraid of their partner, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Women attending 22 general practices in Ireland were surveyed about domestic violence. Of the 1,692 women who had ever had a sexual relationship nearly 40% had experienced violent behaviour, but only 5% recalled being asked about it by their doctor.

Yet, 77% of women said that it would be "all right" for their doctor to ask about violence in relationships.

Women who reported domestic violence were much more likely to be afraid of their partner and to have experienced controlling behaviour (e.g. being shouted or screamed at) than women who did not report such violence.

For general practitioners and doctors in accident and emergency, asking women about fear of their partner and controlling behaviours may be an acceptable and effective way of identifying those who are experiencing domestic violence, conclude the authors.
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BMJ

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