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This violence can occur on a continuum of economic, psychological and emotional abuse, through to physical and sexual violence.Men can also be victims of this violence, but evidence indicates the majority of victims are women, and it is women who are more likely to suffer health consequences.Over the years, this focus has broadened to include the serious effects of domestic violence on children, what can be done to assist perpetrators of abuse, and the needs of those affected by abuse in all areas including social services, housing, legal and most recently, health services.

We must address the roots of violence." —Nelson Mandela It is now 30 years since domestic violence first began to emerge as a significant issue.

Initially efforts focused on ensuring safety for women and children fleeing violent partners.

Research suggests women who have been subjected to violence tend not to ask professionals directly for help.

In a recent women's safety survey, 79% of women who had experienced physical assault and 81.25% who had experienced sexual assault had not sought any professional help.

Very often women do not share this aspect of their relationship with others, or if they do, are often not believed and therefore unable to get the help and support they need.

Significantly, many women do not want the relationship to end; but they do however want the violence to stop.

It is imperative that nurses are prepared to educate themselves, and confront their fears, values and beliefs, while working towards creating an environments for this to occur.

These days it is common for the term 'intimate partner violence' to be used.

The range of barriers to disclosing domestic violence include: When women do tell someone about the violence, few approach domestic violence services of the police.

They are more likely to approach friends, family or the helping professions, and the response to disclosure is significant in determining the woman's subsequent help seeking behaviour.

The response of nurses to women in these circumstances can have a profound effect on their willingness to open up or to seek help.

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