Intimate partner violence: A call for social work action


Although it made a first appearance in the literature of psychiatry in the mid 1960s (Snell, Rosenwald, & Robey, 1964), domestic violence was not in the public eye until the Women’s Movement of the 1970s when grassroots feminists brought it out of hiding. Since then, a proliferation of articles and journals has appeared in response to the issue, and a database (Violence and Abuse Abstracts) has been developed to catalog the quantity of research. Known over the years alternatively as domestic violence, battering, family violence, and spouse abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2007) has called for a new designation: intimate partner violence (IPV). In response to that request, IPV is used throughout this article. The current article addresses the issue of routine screening of all women in emergency rooms, clinics, and primary care settings, and the role that social workers can play in the assessment, intervention, and referral process. We believe that social workers are in a unique position to help break down the barriers that currently prevent all women from receiving routine screening. In their multiple roles, social workers can train health care workers about the dynamics surrounding IPV; as practitioners they can conduct assessments and screenings in health care settings; as advocates they can provide support, resources, and referral information; as researchers they can evaluate existing programs and create new assessment tools; and as policymakers they can assist in the planning and development of the health care response to IPV.

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Health and Social Work


Oxford Journals

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Copyright © 2008, National Association of Social Workers