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Seeking medical advice after experiencing abuse


Abuse can take many forms. And sometimes, psychological injuries take longer to heal than physical ones. Sadly, some survivors of abuse are reluctant to seek advice from medical professionals due to feelings of shame or guilt. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship or are a survivor of abuse in any form, medical professionals are there to help. Shine Lawyers encourages you to reach out and seek the support and treatment that you need.

Benefits of seeing a Medical Professional

Medical professionals are there to help with both the physical and psychological effects of abuse. According to the World Health Organisation, unsympathetic or victim-blaming attitudes can undermine women’s self-confidence and reinforce feelings of isolation and self-blame. Medical professionals are bound by the duty to “first do no harm”. They’re attentive to possible symptoms of abuse and can document details of the abuse in the patient’s medical records, including the details of the perpetrator. They maintain privacy regarding client information and they can refer survivors to necessary resources.

Both individual and group therapy can help survivors of abuse process difficult emotions, develop self-compassion and self-care strategies, and learn to trust again.

Violence against Women in Australia

Violence against women is a major problem in Australia. According to Our Watch, at least one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and one in five has experienced sexual violence. Younger women (aged 18-24), women with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are all more likely to experience violence.

Types of Abuse

Types of abuse can include:

  • physical abuse (assault, intimate partner violence etc.),
  • sexual abuse (non-consensual sexual behaviour, child sexual abuse etc.)
  • and emotional abuse (verbal insults, threats, put-downs etc.).

It’s common for abusers to engage in more than one type of abuse. Psychological abuse almost always precedes physical violence in intimate partner relationships.

Effects of Abuse

The severity of abuse’s psychological impact can vary according to many factors, including how well the abuser was known to the survivor and whether the abuse was recognised as such by the survivor’s friends and family. Adult survivors of abuse may have difficulty forming healthy relationships and are more prone to developing mental health issues such as depression.

Survivors of abuse can suffer from anxiety, anger, depression, irritability, disassociation (confusion), PTSD, trust issues, shame and self-destructive behaviour.

Legal support for survivors of abuse

If you need more information about legal issues after abuse, Shine Lawyers are happy to help. If you’ve experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our abuse law team.

If you’re experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, here are some resources:

DV Connect (QLD): 1800 811 811 / http://www.dvconnect.org.

Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (QLD metropolitan): (07) 3217 2544 / http://www.bdvs.org.au.

1800RESPECT (national): 1800 737 732 / https://www.1800respect.org.au.

In the case of an emergency call 000.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 3, 2017.

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