Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline
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  Booklet Contents


AmbulanceA health care issue?

The British Medical Association has reported (BMA, 1980) that domestic violence has a substantial impact on the health and welfare of adults and children, with the two most important health consequences being physical injury and psychological effects.

Women experiencing domestic violence may seek medical help for the consequences of domestic violence; they may also be in routine contact with the health service for reasons unrelated to the violence.

Health professionals who will most often encounter survivors of domestic violence include: GPs, practice nurses, A&E staff, obstetricians, school nurses, health visitors, midwives,  gynaecologists, community psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists.  But all healthcare professionals need to be alert to the signs of domestic violence, and be confident in responding appropriately.   

Some women will not always wish to reveal to health staff that their injuries or other health problems are due to domestic violence , but health professionals should always make it possible for patients to talk about domestic violence if they wish to. 

The impact which domestic violence has will vary from person to person but she may suffer from any of the following health problems: 

  • 4   Depression

  • 4   Insomnia

  • 4   Anxiety

  • 4   Unexplained somatic symptoms e.g. stomach pains, palpitations, headaches

  • 4   Alcohol/drug dependency

  • 4   Eating disorders

  • 4   Low self esteem

  • 4   Physical injuries – bruises, burns, vaginal bleeding, black eyes etc.

  • 4   Still-birth/miscarriage

Please note this list (and the behavioural indicators listed on next page) is not exhaustive and that none of these symptoms are proof that domestic violence has definitely occurred and they should not be taken as such.  Rather, they are signs that health professionals should ask further questions, carefully and tactfully.

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Contact Us:  129 University Street Belfast. BT7 1HP  Tel:(028) 90 249041 Fax:(028) 90 239296  
General email: [email protected]
  For help and information, please call the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 917 1414. We do not provide a  support service via email.


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Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland