Your Family Doctor — A Valuable Ally When You're Facing Domestic Violence

If you're the victim of domestic violence, the simple answer might be to call the police and press charges against your attacker. In reality, though, doing so may be difficult. Whether you lack the courage to stand up for yourself or you have a distrust for law enforcement, you might be reluctant to immediately involve the police. Fortunately, you can find a valuable and perhaps unexpected ally for your situation in your family doctor. Don't be shy about discussing what you're facing with your medical professional, and he or she may be able to help you in the following ways.

A Gentle Ear

The simple act of having someone listen to you and believe you when you're a victim of domestic violence can go a long way toward empowering you to take action for yourself. If you have had trouble talking to close confidants in your life about the violence that you're facing, you may find that talking to your doctor is easy. Many primary care physicians have close bonds with their patients, especially if the patient has seen the doctor for a long time. The first step toward ending domestic violence can be talking about it, and your doctor can be an ally in this regard.

A Discussion Of The Realities

You may have some misconceptions about the domestic violence that you're enduring. For example, you might believe that it's your fault, that it won't happen again, and that you won't get seriously hurt. Your family doctor will speak to you gently, based on his or her experience, to know that such beliefs aren't necessarily accurate. For example, the doctor has likely seen other patients who have suffered at the hands of their partner, and knows that things can get extremely serious. This discussion may be difficult for you to hear, but it can also encourage you to take action.

An Opportunity To Seek Resources

Family doctors can help patients by referring them to certain health specialists, but they can also help you to get in contact with other community resources who may help you at this difficult time. For example, if you're in need of a safe and anonymous place to stay, your doctor can almost certainly suggest a specific service that provides safe housing for people in your situation. Your doctor may also encourage you to speak to a family attorney who can help you with taking out a restraining order against your abuser.