Family Violence Intervention

Family Violence Intervention

Training for Primary Care Professionals

Recognising and Responding to Partner Abuse Training Programme

Partner abuse, child abuse and elder abuse are collectively termed family violence. Partner abuse is the physical, sexual, verbal and emotional/psychological abuse of current or past intimate partners, including same sex couples. Partner abuse can happen to any gender and in any socioeconomic, religious or cultural group.

Partner abuse tends to escalate in severity and can result in death. Failure to identify partner abuse early on can also result in multiple health care visits with incorrect diagnoses, costly and inappropriate tests and treatment, and ongoing morbidity.

To effectively reduce partner abuse intervention is needed at many levels. For identification, staff need:

  • knowledge about the dynamics of abuse and its health effects
  • skill and practice in asking and responding to disclosure
  • skills in safety assessment and documentation
  • knowledge of and ongoing relationships with local referral agencies
  • access to up-to-date patient resources
  • to have systems in place to ensure safety of patients and practice team members

Key messages:

  • To identify abuse the first step is to ask questions and then offer help.
  • The aim is not to 'fix the problem' but to acknowledge the issue, inform the victim of abuse about options and support their decisions.
  • Family violence is NOT a private matter - it is a health issue which requires a health care response.
  • "Domestic violence flourishes because of silence, because the problem stays hidden, and in some subtle but powerful way ... acceptable." Esta Soler

DSAC, as contracted by the Ministry of Health, offers a free* training programme on the Recognition and Response to Partner Abuse, which is useful for General Practice team members, Sexual Health Clinic staff and some Obstetricians and Gynaecology professionals plus other health groups not covered by a different contract.

The training is delivered by one of five DSAC trainers (GPs) who are based throughout New Zealand. The session(s) includes background information, video clips, information about local community resource agencies and case discussion, all of which go towards enabling the health practitioner to gain confidence and skills in this important area of their work. Practical ways of asking the hard questions and equally practical responses to assisting those who experience violence in the home will be presented.

The sessions have been held around the country since April 2002 to over 5000 attendees and have received excellent feedback as to their usefulness.

For further information on the DSAC Family Violence Training Programme, please contact the DSAC National Office.

*Whilst the training sessions themselves are free for groups of 8 or more attendees, we may seek a contribution towards travel / accommodation costs if a trainer is required to travel outside of their region.