Helping Battered Women
A Health Care Perspective
There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not lead single-issue lives…Our struggles are particular but we are not alone.
In the midst of a winter ice storm, the wails of ambulance sirens signaled a new arrival to the overburdened emergency room staff every 5 minutes. The ER waiting area was already crowded. Within this onslaught of urgent accident cases and emergent needs of broken bones and flu, Julia Crouse was finally triaged. Aged 35, a white female, well-dressed, trembling, and speaking with a shaking voice, she said simply, “I fell.” “While going to the mailbox, ” her husband, Jim, interrupted. “Where are you hurting, Julia?” asked the nurse. “It's her right arm, ” said Jim. “Do you hurt anywhere else, Julia?” “Like I said, ” Jim replied, “it's just her arm.” “Excuse me, ” the nurse responded. “Julia's the patient, and I need to hear from her where she's having pain.” Jim stood and moved closer to his wife, snarling, “You have a real attitude problem, nurse. Let us see a doctor now.” “I'll take your wife back to an exam room now, Mr. Crouse, ” the nurse answered politely “where the doctor will see her.” “Please go back to the waiting area, and we'll call you after the doctor has completed his exam.”
Tammy, the registered nurse assigned to room 5, warmly greeted Julia and asked her to undress and put on a hospital gown. Vivid purple blotches covered her neck and chest. Small, circular brown scars on her abdomen appeared to be cigarette burns. Angry welts crisscrossed her back. Tammy asked the clerk for any old ER records, and five past visits over 2 years