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Does Your Doctor Screen You For Domestic Abuse?

By HERWriter Guide
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Each time I go for an annual checkup, I am asked to complete a form about domestic abuse: is someone abusing me physically, sexually, emotionally or otherwise? It was the same when I was pregnant with my children.

Then when the nurse visited me for the one postpartum visit I got, I had to fill it out amidst other forms when the nurse silently gave me a look, indicating that anything I wrote would be private but deserving of help, if I needed it. This is expertly done by nurses in case an abusive partner is in the room and the nurse was sitting with me, rather than my husband.

Ironically, no one is ever asked if they themselves are a domestic abuser (women are also guilty of being abusive to their partners and it also happens in same-sex partnerships) on any sheets of paper when visiting a doctor.

I know most would lie if they were abusers, but it would be interesting to put that question out there anyway. What do you think?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that doctors ask their female patients if they are being abused, and if so, that they provide support and help. The most vulnerable group are women of childbearing age and those actually pregnant.

While broken bones and bruises are obvious signs of abuse, other signs include gastrointestinal stress, insomnia, depression and headaches. Women who are pregnant and abused run the risk of their fetus being preterm, injured or even killed. Over 320,000 women are abused by their partners annually.

Even if women (or men) are not being physically abused, there are ways for them to know if they are facing other kinds of abuse. According to the EmpowHER article "Diagnosing Violence: Red Flags of an Abusive Relationship," the most telling sign that you are in an abusive relationship is a fear of your partner.

If you are constantly worried about disappointing, of “doing something wrong”, of making a partner angry, or of bringing up a topic that will lead to an argument, among other things, this may be an indication that something is seriously amiss in your relationship. You have the right to feel safe and confident in your own home.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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