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Routine enquiry for domestic violence and abuse in sexual health settings
  1. Lucy Lyus1,
  2. Tracey Masters2
  1. 1 Freelance healthcare communications consultant, London, UK
  2. 2 Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tracey Masters, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London E9 6SR, UK; tracey.masters{at}

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Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) destroys lives. It can take many forms, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse, but at its heart is the use of power and control to deprive survivors of the right to their own bodies and futures. DVA exacts a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of survivors and their families, and for an average of two women a week, it is fatal.1

DVA is highly prevalent, particularly among women.2 It accounts for 11% of all crimes reported to police in England and Wales, and more than one in four women and around one in six men have experienced DVA since the age of 16.2 However, official figures are likely to be an underestimate, because much DVA remains hidden.2 Survivors may not disclose or report DVA out of fear for their own or their family’s safety, but also out of feelings of self-blame or fear of stigma.3 The isolating nature of DVA (often a deliberate tactic) can further reduce the likelihood of a survivor disclosing abuse or seeking help unprompted, but receiving information about DVA and support options or making contact with …

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  • Handling editor Jackie A Cassell

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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