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Information for medical doctors and medical personnel

As a doctor, nurse or medical assistant, you play a central role in recognizing violence, providing help and preventing further violence against women and children.

Most victims seek medical treatment sooner or later after experiencing violence - often to treat non-specific health impairments that occur as (late) consequences of the violence.

It is therefore very important that you, as a healthcare professional, pay attention to warning signs - the so-called red flags - that indicate domestic violence. If you notice one or more of these red flags in a patient in your practice, you must not look away!

The following warning signs are highly likely to indicate physical violence:

  • Chronic complaints that have no obvious physical cause
  • Injuries that do not match the explanation of how they are supposed to have occurred
  • Various injuries in different stages of healing
  • A partner who is overly attentive, controlling and does not want to leave the woman's side
  • Physical injuries during pregnancy
  • Late start of prenatal care
  • Frequent miscarriages
  • Frequent suicide attempts and thoughts
  • Delays between the time of injury and seeking treatment
  • Chronic irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pelvic pain

What you can do

Have you noticed signs of physical violence - the red flags - in your patient? Now it is up to you to break the spiral of silence. Talk to the person concerned as sensitively but directly as possible. Then have a brief conversation to establish whether the person has actually experienced violence. In addition to treating and thoroughly examining the injuries, documentation is one of your most important tasks.

You can use a documentation form (PDF file), such as the one from the Westphalia-Lippe Medical Association, to clearly and systematically record any traces of physical violence. This process is so important because it is the only way to provide the patient concerned with usable evidence of their injuries in court. Once you have drawn up the medical report and completed the diagnosis, you should also give the person concerned some addresses of protective facilities that they can turn to in an emergency.

Further information

Experiences of violence are one of the main health risks, especially for women. Following on from the nationwide pilot project "Medical Intervention against Violence against Women - MIGG", this portal supports doctors in integrating the topic of domestic violence against women into everyday practice and strengthens cooperation between outpatient medical care and existing women's support and violence intervention facilities and initiatives.