Domestic violence: doctors encouraged to question their patients

A guide produced by the High Authority for Health has been sent to hundreds of general practitioners in order to standardize the questioning of patients on domestic violence.

“The national tool to help identify violence against women” produced by the High Authority for Health is beginning to be deployed in the country. On the occasion of the international day for the fight against violence against women on November 25, HAS sent professionals a guide to help them ask their patients about this subject.

Because every year, thousands of women are beaten by their spouse or husband. And in some cases, killed. In 2021, police services and gendarmerie units identified 122 feminicides.

“Undetected violence has consequences on physical and mental health and generally becomes more frequent and severe over time, to the point of representing a vital risk”, recalled the HAS this Wednesday in a press release.

“Demystify” the subject

“In the end, it’s very simple, insofar as we warn the patient by saying ‘I’m going to ask you some questions [sur le sujet des violences] as I ask about your life. And I ask them to everyone'”, summarizes at the microphone of BFMTV Margot Bayard, vice-president of MG France, union of French general practitioners.

“From that moment, we demystify this question. And that greatly facilitates the task. The first time, we are afraid of the answer, but we learn and we realize how liberating it is”, explains she.

In the guide sent to doctors by the HAS, examples of questions are already written: “How is it going at home?”, “How is it going with your partner?”, “Do you think you have been subjected to violence (physical , verbal, psychic, sexual) during your life?

The Haute Autorité de Santé invites practitioners to reformulate them in their own words if necessary.

“There may be difficulties”

If the questioning on the subject of domestic violence is necessary and considered normal by a large majority of women, “there can be difficulties”, recognizes Françoise Brié, director general of the National Federation Solidarity Women (FNSM)

“Because the general practitioner is often the doctor of the whole family, therefore of the children, but also of the violent spouse”, she explains. “Behind, the question [posée], what action to take? And what to do is to work in a network, but also to know the resources to be able to guide women.”

3919: the telephone number for women victims of violence
The “3919”, “Violence Women Info”, is the national reference number for women victims of violence (domestic, sexual, psychological, forced marriages, sexual mutilation, harassment, etc.). It’s free and anonymous. It offers listening, informs and directs towards support and support systems. This number is managed by the National Women’s Solidarity Federation (FNSF).

Ariel Guez with Fanny Regnault

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