Domestic Violence and Nurses

Nurses themselves are not immune to domestic violence. While we devote our lives to protecting the public from this epidemic, we also need to protect each other. A recent study in India found that as many as 60 percent of all nurses have reported controlling behavior from their partners, and 43.3 percent reported a form of physical violence. One reason for this is that nursing tends to be a female-dominated profession. Other factors contributing to the amount of partner disputes may include nurses' unusual work schedules and occupational stress (Vatsa & Sharma, 2011). Also, personality traits of successful nurses can align with traits that abuse victims have. For example, most nurses are empathetic and adaptable. Many victims have a tendency of being over empathetic and adapting to an abusive situation. It is important to remember that we as nurses need to advocate for each other. Abusive relationships do not discriminate. A victim could easily be one of our fellow nurses, social workers, physicians, etc. We as nurses need to continue to assess for abuse in our everyday lives in and outside our work setting.


Nurses play a significant role in helping reduce the amount of domestic violence in our communities. We must insist that our employers work with us to help us provide compassion and support to patients who may be victims of domestic violence. However, awareness of this epidemic within the healthcare field seems to be growing: the state of Florida is making training in domestic violence assessment and response a mandatory requirement for nursing license renewal.

As for Carmen Blandin Tarleton, she eventually recovered and even received a face transplant two years ago, while her attacker was found guilty for the crime of maiming and was sentenced to seventy years in jail. She has since written a book, Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed (2013), to share her experiences in overcoming domestic violence. Although Carmen experienced a near-fatal attack, she is still able to share a message of inspiration and strength. I would like to end this course with a quote from Carmen:

"There is a lot to learn and take from horrific events that happen. I want others to know that they need not give up on healing themselves when tragedy strikes, but instead they can make a choice to find the good and allow that to help them heal."

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