04:30am Tuesday 14 July 2020

Domestic violence in same sex relationships must not be ignored, warns RCGP

The College is calling for more support to help GPs and other health professionals improve the ways in which they respond to patients in non traditional relationships who they suspect are living under threat of violence.

This should extend to men in heterosexual relationships who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse from their female partners, says the RCGP.

The call comes as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) publishes new guidance for health professionals on how to support patients who are experiencing domestic violence.

The development of the new NICE guidance has been led by Professor Gene Feder – the RCGP’s Clinical Lead for Domestic Violence. It highlights (page 23) that young people in same sex relationships are at greater risk than those in heterosexual relationships.

Other research carried out by various agencies on domestic violence in same sex and transgender relationships shows that:

  • Compared with 17% of men in general, 49% of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic violence and abuse since the age of 16. This includes domestic violence and abuse within same-sex relationships (Stonewall Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey 2012).
  • Just under 40% (38.4%) of bisexual, gay and lesbian people class themselves as having experienced domestic violence and abuse. However, many more respondents reported behaviours that could be classed as domestic violence and abuse (Donovan et al. 2006).
  • The majority of trans people (80%) experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse from a partner or ex-partner (Roch et al. 2010).

The College works extensively to tackle issues of domestic violence and provide support for patients in general practice. It has produced guidance for clinical commissioners and practical support, including an e-learning course Violence Against Women and Children, to help GPs and their teams respond effectively to patients experiencing domestic abuse.
 
RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said:

“GPs are at the frontline in recognising and helping those experiencing domestic violence and abuse. But domestic violence is still a taboo subject, with a lot of societal stigma attached.

“The difficulty for GPs in identifying patients and their children exposed to violence is that they rarely present with physical signs of abuse or disclose spontaneously during the consultation. This can be even more complex for patients who are in same sex relationships or men experiencing abuse in heterosexual relationships and they can often be overlooked.

“We welcome the NICE guidance, particularly as it highlights the need for greater awareness of the whole range of people in our society who can experience domestic violence.

“We would welcome more research into the extent of the problem and how GPs can respond appropriately and safely to these patients we suspect are in violent relationships but who are worried about speaking out and seeking help.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
[email protected]

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 44,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.


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