The purpose of this document is to supplement the guidance on domestic violence written by Iona Heath and published by the college in 1998. At that time the issues of children living in violent households were not addressed. Since then the government has produced that can guide a professional’s practice in this area. This document aims to offer an interpretation of those documents and to develop professional policy that can guide a general practitioner’s (or any other member of the team’s) good practice. It does not repeat messages elsewhere in the guidance about domestic violence nor does it address the significant long-term health consequences for adults who lived in a violent household as a child.
For the purposes of this guidance, the term domestic violence is used to describe the physical, emotional and mental abuse of women by male partners or ex-partners. The impact of this violence is felt strongly, but not always explicitly, in every general practitioner's consulting room. The manner in which the general practitioner responds to a woman's first tentative attempt to seek help to change her situation can make an immense difference to that woman's life and those of her children