Nurse’s Abusive Experience and Professional Practice

Previous experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) or abuse can lead to different adverse outcomes in nursing professional’s practice. Connor, Nouer, Speck, Mackey, and Tipton (2013) point out that if a person was in abusive relationships and encounters experiences similar to theirs at work, they might have various responses to it, including anxiety, fatigue, stress, irritability, and apathy. Negative feelings can transition to the workplace and result in an inability to concentrate or absenteeism.

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At the same time, such experience can help the nursing professional recognize women who suffer from domestic violence but cannot ask for help. For example, Hughes (2013) describes nurses who identified the presence of IPV in women who asked questions about the impact of conflict on children, sexual health, parenting difficulties, etc. Such patients might not discuss domestic violence directly, but the nurse’s previous experience in abusive relationships can help her/him notice some signs and intervene if possible or necessary.

If a person trusts the nursing professional or sees that they are familiar with the problem, they might disclose the presence of IPV in their relationships and, possibly, ask for help. Additionally, the nurse can also initiate the conversation about IPV, although the patient might not want to address it directly if they are not ready to talk about it explicitly (Hughes, 2013).

To conclude, previous abusive relationships can both negatively and positively affect the nursing practice. They can trigger unwanted reactions such as anxiety and stress, but they might assist in recognizing the signs of IPV in patients who are not ready (or afraid) to talk about it openly. Some of these patients might accept help after several appointments with the nursing profession.


Connor, P. D., Nouer, S. S., Speck, P. M., Mackey, S. N., & Tipton, N. G. (2013). Nursing students and intimate partner violence education: Improving and integrating knowledge into health care curricula. Journal of Professional Nursing, 29(4), 233-239.

Hughes, J. A. (2013). Putting the pieces together: How public health nurses in rural and remote Canadian communities respond to intimate partner violence. Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, 10(1), 34-47.

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