Domestic violence is an umbrella term to describe violence within the family. It is often used to denote intimate partner violence, which refers to behaviours that cause harm in a relationship. Gender-based violence concerns harmful acts that are directed towards a person based on their gender.
In recent years, these types of violence have been increasingly framed by policymakers as a public health issue. The World Health Organization has called gender-based violence against women a ‘major public health problem’, affecting nearly one in three women globally.
The annual Global 16 Days Campaign, which takes place from 25 November to 10 December each year, aims to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence against women around the world. Although people of all gender identities experience domestic and intimate partner violence, women are cited as being at the highest risk of severe physical and psychological health implications.
Tackling a significant public health issue
Addressing domestic and intimate partner violence starts with implementing a public health approach to monitor the scale of the problem. Understanding this enables effective planning of intervention strategies and appropriate resource allocation. Screening – an important monitoring tool – can identify people affected by these types of violence and direct them to sources of support. However, undertaking surveillance is challenging, owing to domestic and intimate partner violence often being hidden, with those affected being hard to reach.
In the UK, it is estimated that 80% of women in a violent relationship seek help from health services at least once. Healthcare settings, such as general practitioner (GP) practices, give healthcare professionals an opportunity to routinely screen individuals for possible signs of intimate partner violence and offer specialist help.