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9.1 Incidence, History, and Psychosocial Factors

Violence against women is a worldwide problem, and some populations are at a higher risk. To understand and prevent violence against women, theories have been developed and integrated into the health-care and legal systems. Nurses have integrated IPV screening into their assessments and are trained to recognize signs of IPV. Nurses can provide referrals to shelters, offer emotional support, provide education, and in some states contact authorities in cases of IPV.

9.2 Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence

Violence in the home affects all members of the household. Intimate partner violence can include physical, financial, and sexual violence. The perpetrator’s aim is to control the partner by any means possible. Some misinformed people believe that IPV is a private family issue. Nurses can educate people that IPV is a serious problem that can lead to death. Nurses will screen all patients for IPV privately. Nurses can provide support, empathy, and resources to help empower the woman to develop a plan of safety for her and her family.

9.3 Sexual Abuse and Assault

Rape is a violation of a person’s bodily autonomy and consent. Rapists target victims of any age and in any environment. College campuses typically have high rates of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual abuse must go through the process of dealing with their trauma and often experience long-term psychologic and emotional issues if they do not have assistance with healing. Rape occurs in different ways, and nurses can educate their patients on how to reduce their risk in certain situations. SANEs can help sexual assault survivors mentally and physically. The job of caring for rape survivors is taxing, and the nurse must practice self-care to avoid burnout.

9.4 Human Trafficking

Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people. Traffickers prey on those who are at risk and alone, develop trust, and then recruit them into a life of servitude. Nurses must be educated on getting the person alone to identify red flags for trafficking. The health-care system must work as a team to provide care and resources for these victims as well as develop policies for screening for trafficking.

9.5 Social and Cultural Practices of Violence Against Women

Social violence is violence aimed at groups. Hate crimes focus violence on people due to their perceived race, religion, gender, or sexuality. The purpose of acid attacks is to permanently disfigure the woman to remind her of her “transgression” against the perpetrator; honor killings focus on killing the family member who has brought shame on the family. Forced marriages are often child marriages. These women lose their childhood and are forced to live in poverty and have children at very young ages. Nurses can educate the public on these types of violence and support women who have experienced such events.

9.6 Psychological Trauma of Violence Against Women

Safety is a human right. When a woman is victimized and stripped of her safety, she has lost a basic human right. As seen with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, safety is a foundational, basic component to one’s well-being. Psychologic abuse removes a person’s feelings of safety and self-worth. IPV and abuse cause stress, which can manifest as physical and psychologic symptoms. A woman’s reproductive and mental health can be compromised. Family relationships suffer. Cognitive functioning in victims of IPV and in children observing IPV is affected. The CDC has helped develop programs to shed light on IPV and to provide data to help focus efforts on IPV prevention programs. Nurses can assist in community programs, education, and advocacy for women’s safety.


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