A domestic violence nurse is a nurse who works with people of all ages who have been exposed to some form of domestic violence.
Domestic violence can take many forms, partner against partner, adult against child, or even abuse by another toward the elderly.
It is up to domestic violence nurses to assist patients with all forms of domestic violence, including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological.
These specially trained nurses need to have appropriate training and experience to identify the signs and symptoms of abuse, even when a victim is not specifically seeking treatment for such abuse.
For example, an awareness of specific injuries or patterns of injuries might point to the likelihood that domestic violence is being experienced by a patient.
Other physical symptoms related to abuse might include various aches and pains or illness related to stress, anxiety, or depression.
A nurse might be examining a patient with no suspected abuse and suddenly notice some signs that trigger him or her to suspect the possibility of domestic violence.
The special training that this type of nurse receives helps to identify possible abuse victims who are seeking treatment for a variety of illnesses or injuries.
When a domestic violence nurse suspects family abuse, the nurse will be prepared to ask certain questions designed to encourage the victim to speak out about any possible abuse.
These questions serve as encouragement and are often helpful at getting reluctant victims to speak up.
These special nurses are trained to listen, express belief in what the patient is describing, validate the patient’s disclosure of such information, and affirm to the patient that the violence is not okay.
Although many times these nurses check for signs and symptoms of abuse in everyday patients, there are times when known abuse is occurring.
In these cases a domestic violence nurse has several tasks to complete for proper patient care.
These steps include:
- Safety awareness
Depending on the information obtained and the agency with which the nurse is working, there might be other requirements that involve reporting to a supervisor or directly to the police or another agency.
The domestic violence nurse will assess the injuries experienced by the victim, whether physical or otherwise.
The nurse will then make appropriate documentation of the abuse in case it will be needed by law enforcement or the judicial system.
The domestic violence nurse will then discuss safety and potential arrangements for the victim, as well as give appropriate referrals to necessary agencies and resources to help the victim.
Being a domestic violence nurse takes a lot of education and awareness, but can be one of the more rewarding and personally fulfilling types of nursing to choose.