Nearly 80 percent of women have never been asked about domestic violence by their doctors

A national survey on health outcomes and domestic violence reveals a major gap in women's medical exams

By Katie McDonough

Published October 24, 2013 5:16PM (EDT)

    (<a href=' '> Fotoluminate LLC </a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
( Fotoluminate LLC via Shutterstock)

One in four women has experienced domestic violence during her lifetime, but according to a national survey on domestic violence and women's health outcomes, 76 percent of women say they have never been asked about domestic violence by their doctors.

According to the report published in the November issue of More magazine, survivors of domestic violence also have higher rates of chronic health conditions like migraines, arthritis and insomnia, making it that much more important that doctors make the connection between intimate partner violence and illness.

"We simply as a society had to take up domestic violence as a public health problem," Dr. Gail Wyatt, a professor psychiatry and the director of the sexual health program at UCLA, told CBS News on the consequences of doctors' silence on the issue. "People were not addressing the issues, and there was no help for people if they had these problems."

Failing to address domestic violence during exams does a disservice to patients, according to Wyatt. And more education is necessary to ensure that health professionals are trained to meet their patients' comprehensive health needs.

"We need education in our society," Wyatt said. "We need programs to treat this history. We need to train doctors to be able to identify individuals who are risk when they come into primary care."

h/t Feministing

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Domestic Violence Gender Public Health Violence Violence Against Women Women Women's Rights