Violence against women

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Violence against women has gone on for years. A large population of women form the 50’s and 60’s just accepted as part of the norm for a marriage, because that is what they experienced growing up. Violence against women has never been acceptable, but has occurred. Women of recent years have not grown up in that environment and have begun to change the attitude of people toward violence against women. It unfortunately still does occur. Violence and abuse affects all kinds of people every day. Violence does not discriminate. Abuse can be physical, mental and emotional. Abuse is not only against women any more abuse against men is escalating also.

Violence against women can affect women of all ages, race, socioeconomic, & educational backgrounds. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women is a victim of violence. The historical aspect to this is that women used to be considered property to their spouse and the male dominated in the household. It was considered his right to treat his wife how he felt necessary.

The World Health Organization has been advocate for deterring violence against women. In 1996 the World Health Organization adopted the definition of violence against women that had in 1993 been defined by the United Nations General Assembly. The definition comes from the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women. The definition states “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” The definition is very clear and precise that violence against women is against the law.

There are three kinds of abuse, psychological, physical, and sexual. Psychological abuse is emotional, isolation, using others, obfuscation, economic, coercion, and intimidation. Physical is hitting, chocking, pushing, kicking, or use of weapons. Sexual is forcing someone to perform sexual acts against the will of the victim. The contributing factors to violence against women can be childhood experiences, what an individual saw in the home growing up. Male dominance, the gender role that male is in charge of the home, which can stem back to childhood experiences. Marital conflicts, a great deal of stress in the relationship which can be for multiple reasons, which can include unemployment of one of the people, low socioeconomic status, stress, or the feeling of inadequacy.

There are three phases of abuse against another person. The first phase is tension building. The abuser needs to demonstrate power or control. There are lots of arguments and blaming. This phase has no real time limit it may last from days to years. The purpose of this phase is to make the victim feel as though it is their fault. The second phase is the incidence of abuse. This is the period of destruction. The third phase is the honeymoon period. The abuser becomes loving, kind, is very sorry for what they did. This is also the time when women are very vulnerable and accept promises and wants to believe that the abuse won’t happen again.

The nurse can be the first line of protection for a person that is being abused. When doing an assessment on a patient the nurse needs to become a very good listener and a very good examiner. There are signs that the nurse should be aware of when does a patient assessment. The proper management of a suspected abuse victim is crucial. The signs and symptoms to be aware of are if injuries do not match the explanation, if the patient has a delay in reporting the injury, the patient may exhibit psychosomatic complaints, the patient may not have eye contact when questions of abuse arise, Nervous when the abuser is present.

The nursing interventions are very important. The nurse needs to build a rapport with the patient so that the patient will have trust in them. The patient needs to be reassured of confidentially. The nurse needs to be nonjudgmental. Let the patient tell her story at her/his own pace, if they are comfortable and do not feel rushed they will be more likely to open up and feel that you are concerned and that you will help them in any way that you can.

When that abuse has been established we then need to do what we are taught in nursing school, teach. The patient needs to be taught what they can do to protect themselves and their children, if any are involved. The patient needs to be set up with agencies, if the patient is willing; to help them, and a through follow up needs to be done with the patient. Some of the immediate interventions the nurse can do is to instruct the patient to develop a plan, I.e. have cloths packed in case they need to leave in a hurry, have extra car and house keys hidden, have money and important paper hidden, set up ahead of time a safe place to retreat to if needed. Have all of the important telephone numbers either written or stored in a cell phone, i.e. police, abuse hotline, family.

One of the most important steps that we as nurses can take is to push your clinic, doctor’s office, hospital emergency room or where ever you may work for universal screening of all women for signs of abuse. Universal screenings are not mandatory but we need to, as health care workers, persuade our government officials to pass laws for universal screenings. This can be done through your professional organizations, or just by making a call to your representatives. Violence against women is on the rise and it needs to be halted.

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