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August 22, 1990

Domestic Violence Intervention Calls for More Than Treating Injuries

JAMA. 1990;264(8):939-940. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450080021002

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BATTERING appears to be the single most common cause of injury to women—more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and rapes combined (Stark ED, Flitcraft A. Violence among intimates: an epidemiological review. In: Hasselt VN, et al, eds. Handbook of Family Violence. New York, NY: Plenum Pub Corp; 1988:293-318).

While most clinicians wouldn't consider discharging a patient with a life-threatening condition, data from emergency department records show that a majority of women who are victims of domestic abuse are discharged without any arrangements made for their safety, to return to the same abusive relationships that caused their injuries (Gender and Society. 1989;3:506-517).

Despite the widespread presence of domestic violence (see p 940) and its major role in women's health, the medical community has yet to consistently identify victims of domestic violence and extend treatment beyond the physical manifestations of an abusive relationship.

Several studies have shown that 22% to 35% of