Talking to Your Doctor When You’re a Victim of Domestic Violence
Most doctors often ask female patients if they are in pain. This is a common routine that most – if not all – patients already expect. However, it also serves another purpose, one that not everyone might expect. You might also be surprised to know that this simple question can even unveil domestic abuse cases.
If you are someone who is suffering from domestic abuse and you are having a lot of difficulty talking to someone about it, your doctor can be your confidante. You might be afraid to tell someone because of the possible consequences of your revelation but for your own health and safety, you should talk to your doctor.
Doctors’ Sixth Sense
You might be perplexed when your doctor looks like he or she is trying to dig deeper into your pain and the causes of it. Physicians tend to do that when they sense that there’s something wrong. It might even look like they have a six sense, in the way they can sense that something is wrong.
Doctors are encouraged by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to screen for domestic abuse in patients. It may not be a mandatory but most doctors often go the extra mile to dig deeper and investigate. Physicians have clinical radars that can detect signs of domestic violence even when those signs don’t show up on electronic tests and records.
Sometimes, women deny everything when doctors question them about domestic violence. However, doctors can sense that domestic violence may be in the picture upon physical examination. If the patient frequently returns to the clinic, exhibiting signs of depression, bruises and complaints of insomnia, the physician will undoubtedly be alarmed. If you are having all these symptoms, you can expect that your doctor will follow up with you.
Pain and Domestic Violence
Some patients may only be complaining of pain and doctors can deduct domestic abuse. For instance, if a patient complains of pelvic pain and tests show further signs of physical abuse, doctors can get suspicious. Pelvic pain could involve a broken spleen or injury in the kidneys and other organs. Your doctor will ask you the right questions, gauge your reaction and try his or her best to get you to open up about the issue. Only when you do so can you get the help that you need.
It could take more than one visit to the doctor before most domestic abuse victims could manage to let their guard down and admit that they are victims of domestic violence. If this case applies to you, you might be scared but know that your physician is not trying to be intrusive, but is trying to help. Once you acknowledge this and start to open up, you can be referred to social workers and all the resources you need that could help you get through your situation.
Your Doctor Can Be Your Protector
You could be looking for a way to tell someone about your condition and to your dismay, your abusive partner accompanies you to your doctor’s appointment, presumably to make sure you are kept silent. Your partner may mask it as a way to dote on you, but don’t be deceived. It can also be another way to exercise their control over you.
There are several things that you can do. You can request to speak privately to your doctor or you can try to find a number that you can call. Some of these numbers can be found in places where you can’t be followed by your partner, such as the bathroom.
Remember that if you decide to tell your doctor about the abuse, it will be recorded in your medical records, unless you tell your doctor that you are concerned about your partner asking questions and demanding to see your electronic records. Your doctor can find a way to document information on your records in a way that only medical professionals can understand.
When to Report Domestic Abuse
Your doctor will have to eventually step up and report the abuse that you are going through to the authorities if you are reluctant and afraid to do it yourself. Doctors are urged by the American Medical Association to investigate and report abuse. When doctors are aware that domestic abuse is taking place, they should report it according to local laws.
It is likely that your physician will talk to you and explain why and how this step needs to be done.
You can also seek help from social workers and various domestic violence assistance centers near you. These centers have experts that have been trained and are well-versed in the steps on how you can escape from domestic violence. They will help you prepare and be ready to break free from your abuser.
If You Are Still Hesitating, Here’s What You Can Do
Talk to your doctor. Your doctor will support you and will be glad to help. Most victims are afraid of being judged but know that your doctor won’t judge you. We understand that you can feel shameful, fearful, lonely and isolated. We can even help you come up with a safety plan. This includes preparing your emergency packet with your personal documents and cash, a safe place for shelter or help you to signal other people when you’re in an emergency. You will also be provided with the hotlines that you can call. Your doctor won’t force you to leave your partner when you are not ready.
Domestic violence happens everywhere. It’s a common problem in the society today. In fact, 32 million Americans are affected by it today. Though many people think that the usual victims are uneducated women in poor areas, it isn’t always the case. It doesn’t choose its victims according to age, race or social and economic status. Its occurrence is not even limited to women, as men can be victims of domestic abuse too. If you are in this situation, don’t continue to endure while living in fear and pain. Every situation in every domestic violence case may be different but experts, such as your doctor and social workers can help you with it. People will help and support you, so have courage and seek help. You can live a happy life free from abuse and pain.