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Domestic Abuse a Curse to Public Health

uld have an adverse efffect with the women being offended by this kind of questioning. The husbands or boyfriends accompaning the women too could create problems for inferring to thenm as offenders.

The questionairre should be framed in a way condusive for the patient to answer correctly about the violence. They should be given privacy without relatives or partners being present.

The health care staff has to be trained to recognise victims of domestic violence.

Prof Vivienne Nathanson, of the BMA, said: "The figures we provide in this report are shocking, but perhaps more alarming is that they are likely to be grossly underestimated." Prof Nathanson added: "Children need to understand what abuse is. It needs to be de-normalised so they understand that what they are seeing is aberrant behaviour that they can do something about.

"Children brought up in abusive households are often caught up in abuse as adults, either as victims or aggressors. The purpose of education is to try and break the cycle."

Domestic abuse costs the country more than 3 billion a year. The report said that physical and psychological abuse has become a major health problem leading to heart attacks and mental illness. It calls for a Government-funded refuge building programme to deal with it.

Professor Feder said abused women had a much higher risk of heart disease but the most likely effect was on mental health, where rates of depression were three or four times higher than normal.

The report calls for health professionals to be aware of the potential for abuse in ethnic minority groups, where the breach of codes of honour may be punished by violence. For example, it says, women in some Asian families may be expected to tolerate abuse by their husband rather than seek help or leave the family home.

Domestic abuse can take place in forced marriages, where the partners have been coerced and
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