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Domestic (family) violence is a learned pattern of behaviors used by one person to control the other partner in the relationship. Control can be achieved by using physical, sexual or emotional abuse; threats and intimidation; economic control; social isolation; and the use of children or role privilege. The partners may be dating, married, separated, divorced or in a same sex relationship. Family violence may also involve children and elders and other vulnerable adults.
Why should nurses and other healthcare providers be concerned about domestic violence? Why should our families, communities, schools, houses of worship or business be concerned? The answer, simply and sadly, is that domestic violence touches all of us, whether we are experiencing abuse personally in our homes, watching a beloved family member or friend struggle in abusive relationships, or we are caring for a patient who has been emotionally, physically or sexually assaulted by domestic violence.
Increasing visibility and awareness helps find a solution to the problem. Just as many of us were first embarrassed or judgmental about the medical dilemma of AIDS, we couldn't really work on a comprehensive approach to the problem, without first openly admitting it existed. Raising awareness bears a need to openly talk about these and similar health issues. Awareness in turn, moves us toward positive action and tremendous outcomes.