Violence inflicted on women by men affects women both physically and psychologically. Laura Verina and Nicklas Wallin, nursing students at Ersta Sköndal University College, Sweden, looked at the clinical care of these women by conducting a study on Indian nurses’ experiences of caring for women exposed to gender-based violence.
According to the World Health Organisation, one-third of all women worldwide experience gender-based violence during their lifetime. The most common type is “intimate partner violence” and an estimated 30 per cent of women in a relationship report experiencing violence.
Verina and Wallin chose to write their thesis on India, where violence against women is largely under-reported. According to the study, the global average of women reporting gender-based violence to a formal source is 7 per cent but in India, the number is less than 1 per cent.
For the study, five woman nurses were interviewed, the common factor being their experience of caring for women exposed to gender-based violence. An analysis of what they said resulted in four main categories: nurse-patient relationship, nurses’ ability to detect gender-based violence, challenges in the nursing profession and management of emotional impact.
The study found it is very significant for a nurse to maintain the confidentiality of her patients and foster a relation of trust. That way, the victim might be able to get treatment with or without officially reporting the violence. According to the study, nurses should develop good observation skills to be able to detect violence.
The study also revealed the challenges involved in nursing these women. One is that of being emotionally impacted by cases of sexual assaults, burning and poisoning. But with greater experience comes better ability to manage emotions. Another challenge is language barrier between patients and nurses.