Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A failure to screen for same sex domestic violence



Next week my fiancé Mitchell and I travel to the US.  I’ll be speaking at conferences, but more importantly on 8 October we are getting married in Vegas.

Yesterday I came up with the bright idea to buy him flowers, being the last time before our wedding.  Last night when he was opening the wrapping, for some reason he used a knife and not scissors and managed to stab himself in the hand.  Blood poured out.

We ended up at the local hospital, a big teaching hospital in Brisbane and particularly, a hospital that has been the centre of research about domestic violence in accident and emergency wards.  Research undertaken at that hospital some years ago demonstrated that there was inadequate screening for domestic violence, that domestic violence towards women was prevalent in emergency presentations, and there needed to be protocols in place to ensure that domestic violence was screened for consistently.

Despite all the blood, luckily there was no major damage.

What shocked me on reflection this morning, however, was that despite being interviewed by two nurses, a clerk and a doctor; and nursing what could quite easily have been an injury from domestic violence, neither Mitch nor I were interviewed about the possibility of there having been domestic violence.  It simply wasn’t asked. No domestic violence screening was undertaken at all.

I don’t know whether this would be reflective if the couple were a man and a woman.  Hopefully there would be screening for domestic violence, but what it does say to me is that there is clearly inadequate screening for same sex domestic violence amongst emergency presentations at that hospital and that despite there having been laws in Queensland since 2003 protecting against same sex domestic violence, clearly much more needs to be done.

While we had an accident, a similar injury might have been deliberate.  It should have been screened for and if detected, support offered to the victim and if necessary reported to appropriate authorities and community agencies for help.

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