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Domestic Violence (cont.)

Emergency Department Care

When you suffer an acute abusive episode, you must first insure your immediate safety. If you feel you are in immediate danger, you may notify local law enforcement for intervention in your home through the 911 system. Once your immediate safety is assured, you may then assess your need for emergency department care.

  • Acute injury: If you have sustained what you believe is a life-threatening or limb-threatening injury, call 911 and request emergency medical assistance.
  • Community resources and safety:
    • The emergency department may also serve as a safe haven if you feel you are in danger and need assistance.
    • If you feel that the violence is escalating, a visit to the emergency department for any reason, even the care of a child, may allow you to escape potential harm.
    • Emergency department staff will help you arrange shelter placement, legal assistance, social-service evaluation, support-group referral, and can help you make a police report about your injury if you haven't already informed the police.
    • If you have thoughts of committing suicide, you may also access psychiatric care through the emergency department.
  • The doctor may ask you some questions about your injuries and your relationship. Be prepared to answer as honestly as you can. These questions are recommended by the American Medical Association:
    • Are you in a relationship in which you have been physically hurt or threatened by your partner? Have you ever been in such a relationship?
    • Are you in a relationship in which you feel you are treated badly? In what ways?
    • Has your partner ever threatened or abused your children?
    • Has your partner ever forced you to have sex when you did not want to? Does he or she ever force you to engage in sex that makes you feel uncomfortable?
    • We all fight at home. What happens when you and your partner fight or disagree?
    • Have you been hit, kicked, punched, or otherwise hurt by someone within the past year? If so, by whom were you injured?
    • Do you feel safe in your current relationship?
    • Is there a partner from a previous relationship who is making you feel unsafe now?

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