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Justice Minister launches new guide for GPs to help support domestic violence victims

The guide was officially unveiled by the Irish College of General Practitioners today.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee speaking at the ICGP guide's launch this morning
Justice Minister Helen McEntee speaking at the ICGP guide's launch this morning
Image: Tadgh McNally

JUSTICE MINISTER HELEN McEntee has launched a new guide to help GPs recognise their patients who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse in their lives.

The guide, which was created by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), was unveiled this morning to aid GPs in both recognising and advising their patients who are experiencing domestic violence.

Speaking at the launch this morning, McEntee said that it was a “positive day” and that the new guide was a “welcome document” in how to encourage people to come forward.

“This document is so welcome, GPs are not only the initial point of contact when it comes to medical advice, which are so often asked to spot the signs of many, many other things and domestic violence is no different,” said McEntee.

McEntee said that there needed to be a uniform approach across the country and that the Department of Justice would be taking on all of the services for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

“What’s really important to me is that no matter where you are in the country, no matter who you turn to that you have this same response, that same level of support and that same level of help.

“I really believe that this guide would be such a useful tool for GPs right across the country to make sure that no matter who you’re with and where you are, that you get that same response and that same level of support and engagement.”

The guide itself has five pillars under the word LIVES, which are:

  • Listen
  • Inquire
  • Validates
  • Enhance safety
  • Support

Dr Nóirín O’Herlihy, the ICGPs Director of Women’s Health, said that GPs have an important role to play in providing support to people suffering from domestic violence and abuse.

“We see people in crisis every day of the week and sometimes they’re willing to disclose the underlying cause and other times they’re not but we’re always there to support them.”

O’Herlihy said GPs will be able to help their patients identify appropriate supports and agencies who can manage both domestic abuse and sexual violence.

She added that if patients aren’t yet ready to disclose their situation, they will still be able to receive support from their GP.

Dr Diarmuid Quinlan, the Medical Director of the ICGP said that the new guide was timely following on from Covid-19, due to the prevalence of domestic violence during the pandemic.

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He said that domestic violence and abuse is “under-recognised and under-treated” and improving the detection of it was needed.

“Improving the detection and management of DVA [domestic violence and abuse] has enormous potential to improve the lives and health of victims and their families, especially children. GPs are ideally placed to provide this care,” said Quinlan.

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