Health and Domestic Violence Campaign
In the last few years it has been increasingly recognised by health professionals and government that health services have a critical role to play in providing access to help, support and protection for abused women and their children. Health professionals are often the first point of contact for women who are experiencing domestic violence, and may be the first people to whom women disclose their abuse.
Apart from physical injuries, up to and including death, a woman who has been abused may suffer from chronic health problems and mental health difficulties; if she is pregnant, she is at greater risk of miscarriage or still birth, and domestic violence has been identified as a prime cause of maternal death during childbirth. The children of the family are also likely to have been seriously affected, both from witnessing the abuse, and in many cases, experiencing abuse themselves from the same perpetrator.
In recent years, many of the Royal Colleges - including the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists - have produced guidelines on responding to domestic violence; and in 2000, the Department of Health produced a Resource Manual for health care professionals (available online from the Department of Health