Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My domestic abuse report for nursing class

Laci Peterson’s mysterious disappearance captured the hearts and attention of America. Who would kill a vibrant young pregnant mother? Who could be so depraved? When the truth veered its ugly head, it cast a light on the unspoken tragedy of domestic abuse. It reminded us of a statistic we would rather forget - that the leading cause of death in pregnant women is not childbirth or eclampsia, it’s murder.
Domestic abuse is the preferred terminology over domestic violence because it encompasses the larger definition of intimidation, verbal and psychological abuse (Soanes). While domestic abuse is typically associated with husbands beating wives it is by no means limited to that. Parents can abuse children. Adult children can abuse their elderly parents (Harris). Teenagers can abuse parents and siblings (Plat-Jones J., Du). Homosexuals can abuse their partners. Finally, women can abuse their male partner’s as well, in some cases threatening to harm their born or unborn children as a way to control him. It is a situation which often leaves a man with no where to turn to. If he dares speak up, he risks ridicule and even persecution by the police and the courts that are generally skeptical of these claims. (Platt-Jones, 14)
Nurses are in the ideal position for identifying abuse. They often establish repoir with their clients that allow them to open up about intimate issues. Nurses can sometimes see marks and bruising that a client would normally keep hidden. Nurses are often seen as experts that a person could turn to for advice. Nurse midwifes in particular, are able to establish a close relationship with a woman at a volatile time in their personal lives. (Robinson, 13) When a nurse establishes that there is child or elder abuse, she is required by law to report it (Soanes). The instinctual reaction to a victim of domestic abuse is to tell them to leave their abuser. This advice is dangerous though and must be given with caution and preparation. A domestic abuse victim is most likely to be killed when trying to leave their abuser. It is better to refer the victim to a professional who has dealt with domestic abuse before (Robinson, 13). Together they can come up with a plan for escape if they think that is going to be necessary.
Abusers who want to get help may not know where to turn. Nurses should also be aware of local programs for abusers who want to learn to deal with their emotions instead of lashing out at loved ones. An easy way to find domestic abuse resources is to dial 211 which is now a way to quickly link to community resources.
Nurses should always be aware of their unique position to help victims of domestic abuse. They should consider it their responsibility to bring awareness to the public about this subject. Bathroom stalls are a private place where people can secretly take information about help. Nurses should take advantage of this opportunity by posting helpline numbers in the bathrooms at their facility. It is important not to neglect the local immigrant communities by posting translations also, or the numbers of specialized services for instance: Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project or National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. Just raising awareness about the subject of domestic abuse has been found to be effective for combating it. Talking about it openly and non-judgmentally with patients or displaying posters or pamphlets about the subject are ways that health care providers can break the silence (Plat-Jones J., Du).

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