Confronting Violence Against Women: The Role of the Healthcare Professional

Before the 1970’s, violence against women was largely unrecognized as a public health issue by the healthcare industry. However, since the late 20th century, generations of reformers have passionately and persistently worked to raise awareness of this issue among medical professionals, as well as establish practices and protocols to identify, hep, and advocate for victims. The history of this reformation is the topic of our current traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine – “Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives.” But how far have we gotten? According to the World Health Organization, the global lifetime prevalence of sexual and physical violence among women aged 15 years and older is 30.0%. With doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals often the first to see women after abusive and violent incidents, it is imperative that healthcare professionals be vigilant in identifying and treating women who are victims of violence.

A neighborhood health fair organized by nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 1980. Image via the National Library of Medicine

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