Contemporary challenges in responding to domestic violence

The complexity of the intersection between mental health, trauma and domestic violence poses significant challenges for health professionals. Increasing recognition of the limitations of mainstream healthcare systems’ response to domestic violence victims underlies the growing demand for trauma and violence-informed care.

If you need help, please call

  • Lifeline- 13 11 14
  • BeyondBlue - 1300 22 4636
  • Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
Suicide Call Back Service Online Chat

Emerging models of care are attempting to address structural limitations (e.g., brief consultation times, coordinated service responses), re-conceptualise trauma and radically revise the treatment of women to diminish damage from stigma and paternalistic attitudes.

Promoting violence and trauma-informed care

The collective efforts of survivors of violence, researchers, and clinicians to educate health professionals and advocate for women’s safety are building the momentum needed to enact change! However, such reforms require a system-wide paradigm shift, involving significant structural and funding changes that will not happen overnight. The protracted fight to increase women’s access to appropriate and safe healthcare may lead health professionals to question how they can help women in the here and now?

It is heartening to see that higher numbers of health professionals are participating in training workshops to improve their ability to identify domestic violence and respond to women’s interlinked health and safety needs. But how can health professionals build up a culture of sensitive practice that empowers women when they remain constrained by practice limitations that are inconducive with trauma and violence-informed care?

Bringing violence and trauma-informed care into your practice

Here are 4 ways to bring a culture of sensitive practice to your work with women:

  • Get informed: Understand coercive control and how it can limit women’s thoughts and behaviours even when the partner is not in the room — the best place to start is with the works of Evan Stark
  • Go broader: Position women in their social context to identify the wider operations of power in their lives and understand how they may compound issues and affect access to supports
  • Learn to navigate the trust paradox: Balance trust in women’s fierce capacity to keep themselves safe against the realities of risk and the pitfalls of relied upon support services and systems — learn about women’s experiences navigating health systems
  • Engage in reflexive practice: Recognise that your attitudes and responses can have a profound impact on women’s beliefs and shape future help-seeking — what can you do to minimise the shame, stigma and self-blame that many women feel when disclosing abuse? Listening actively, label violence, establish safety, validate feelings, demonstrate compassion, acknowledge strength, and above all, cultivate a sense of hope.

To learn more about managing domestic violence in practice go to the on-demand recording of eMHPrac Webinar 42.

You can read Victoria's research on Investigating the prevalence of intimate partner violence victimisation in women presenting to the emergency department in suicidal crisis here. 

{{commentCount}} comment(s). You must be logged in and AHPRA verified to view and comment. LOG IN

Victoria Rasmussen

Victoria is a PhD Researcher in the School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at UNSW, currently working as a Research Officer at the Black Dog Institute. Victoria’s doctoral research examines the mental health impacts of intimate partner violence with a specific focus on women’s risk of suicide and experiences seeking support in Australian emergency departments. She adopts empirical- and data linkage methodologies to uncover the pathways between victimisation and suicidal thoughts and behaviours and generate clinically useful findings for risk stratification and suicide prevention within health settings.

At the Black Dog Institute, Victoria has coordinated evaluation studies, feasibility/acceptability trials and randomised-controlled trials (RCT) under the broad field of mental health promotion. This builds on her professional research experience contributing to empirical studies in hereditary cancer, genetic disease, and mental health settings in her roles as Study Coordinator at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

The latest healthcare news from medcast

Working Towards Wellbeing – Mental Health Skills Videos for the Time Poor
Working Towards Wellbeing – Mental Health Skills Videos for the Time Poor

Do you ever struggle with explanations around mental health interventions? Do you need to learn some interventions that may be useful in your own life?

Blended Learning in Resuscitation: Combining Online Learning with Practical Hands-On Training
Blended Learning in Resuscitation: Combining Online Learning with Practical Hands-On Training

The increasing use of technology and move into online learning options has expanded the options for delivering education, including resuscitation education. Theory can now be delivered in high quality and engaging modes, and allow educators to foc...

The protective role of pyrexia
The protective role of pyrexia

Are we doing the right thing when we reach for paracetomol or ibuprofen in response to a fever, or does that fever have benefits in helping our body to fight the infection?

In Two Minds About Work
In Two Minds About Work

Once upon a time I would have baulked at any conversation about retirement. Even a chat about superannuation would have given me a vague feeling of nausea. For me, both subjects carried with them very unpleasant notions – old age, senescence, inca...

DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association)  -	Where did it come from?
DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) - Where did it come from?

I've been reading about the history of classification of mental illness – especially in relation to the DSM – and I’ve learnt a few things that I thought might be worth sharing many of which I found in an article highlighted in my Medscape daily n...

Diabetes in General Practice
Diabetes in General Practice

It's one thing for a medication to demonstrate an effect in the narrowly selected, hermetically sealed and artificially monitored setting of a clinical trial.

Central Capillary Refill Time in Paediatrics
Central Capillary Refill Time in Paediatrics

One of the most important assessment tools in rapid paediatric assessment is the central capillary refill time (CRT). It is quick, easy to perform and does not require any special equipment.

The Sticky Business of Retirement from Health Care
The Sticky Business of Retirement from Health Care

A taxi driver asked me recently if I was still working. I hurriedly assured him that I was indeed “still working” as I was not yet old enough to retire – that, I’m afraid, was a lie!. What surprised me was the rush of emotion the question provoked...

Mobile Stroke Unit Success in Melbourne
Mobile Stroke Unit Success in Melbourne

The opportunity to reduce time to thrombolysis or EVT has significantly reduced the risk of disability for patients who were were able to access the MSU, and improved transfer times to appropriate EVT hospital centres.

Boundaries
Boundaries

We are all familiar with the notion of boundaries in clinical practice – in fact, most of us have spent a lot of time thinking about the subject and trying to work out where our professional boundaries lie.

Navigating the Unfamiliar World
Navigating the Unfamiliar World

So much has been written about fear, anxiety and stress in the COVID era. And I certainly can identify with much of it. For me, however, it’s a lot more complex than just these emotions. I find I don’t recognise the world today. Looking around, o...

Piano lessons, and 5 ways to Wellbeing with Hot Topics delegates
Piano lessons, and 5 ways to Wellbeing with Hot Topics delegates

One of the highlights of my week is my piano lesson, now by Zoom of course, with my teacher John. I took up piano at the age of 55, never having had a music lesson in my life...

Tip your HAT to Sepsis
Tip your HAT to Sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening response to infection. Did you know that more than 18 000 Australians suffer from sepsis every year with more than 5000 deaths a year; this is twice the number of deaths due to traffic accidents.

Contemporary challenges in responding to domestic violence
Contemporary challenges in responding to domestic violence

The complexity of the intersection between mental health, trauma and domestic violence poses significant challenges for health professionals. Increasing recognition of the limitations of mainstream healthcare systems’ response to domestic violence...

Food Allergies and Current Infant Feeding Guidelines in Australia
Food Allergies and Current Infant Feeding Guidelines in Australia

Australia saw a five fold increase in hospitalisation with anaphylaxis between 1995 and 2005, which sadly also saw an increase in the number of fatalities from anaphylaxis. The new infant feeding guidelines have had very positive results, with man...

Surviving Another Stressful Year
Surviving Another Stressful Year

Because COVID is not over yet it’s probably worth our thinking again about how we can optimise the benefits of our downtime, as well as manage the stressors at work.

PCOS in General Practice - Podcast
PCOS in General Practice - Podcast

‘Women’s Health for male GPs can be somewhat tricky’ Dr Rowan Vickers

Ventilation and Compressions Ratios in Paediatric Resuscitation
Ventilation and Compressions Ratios in Paediatric Resuscitation

2020 ILCOR guidelines emphasise the importance of higher ventilations in paediatric resuscitation. This reflects the higher oxygen requirements of children which is evident in their higher baseline respiratory rate.

2020, a year in review: Pam Withey
2020, a year in review: Pam Withey

We've asked some Community of Practice members to tell us about what 2020 has meant to them. Some things may surprise you...

Lynch Syndrome - Podcast
Lynch Syndrome - Podcast

Is it just bad luck, or could it be Lynch Syndrome?

Join Medcast. It's free and you'll get instant access to essential healthcare news, research and more.

Already a member? Log In