Domestic abuse is a major health concern in the UK. Women’s Aid report that whilst it is a widespread problem it is difficult to gauge exactly how many people are affected by it.
There are challenges around obtaining reliable prevalence data, due to domestic abuse being a largely hidden crime and occurring within the home. Data collection for domestic abuse only provides a reliable estimate and is not a true picture of the extent of the problem. Domestic Abuse is largely under-reported, and it is difficult to obtain accurate figures on. The Crime Survey File for England and Wales estimates that 1.9 million adults age between 16 and 59 experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017. Additionally, Police Scotland recorded 58,810 incidents of domestic abuse between 2016 and 2017.
The term Domestic Abuse comes under the umbrella of Gender-Based Violence. Gender-Based Violence is a term that is recognised worldwide and used by many leading organisations aiming to eliminate all forms of violence against women. NHS Scotland (2018) state that Gender Based Violence is a collective term for violence directed towards a woman. Simply because she is a woman or because violence affects women disproportionately. Domestic abuse comes in many different forms which include, coercive control, psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse (Women’s Aid). Furthermore, The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that violence can negatively impact on a women’s physical, mental, psychological, sexual and reproductive health causing serious short-term and long-term consequences.
Domestic Abuse has a significant impact on a victim’s health and it is known that women are much more likely than men to victims of high-risk domestic abuse. Due to the health consequences because of domestic abuse one area that is best placed to support people experiencing domestic abuse is health care settings. This paper will discuss the implementation of a domestic abuse referral pathway within a sexual health setting.