The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an unprecedented shift to telehealth in general practice in Australia. At the same time, there are concerns of a likely increase in the risk of domestic violence. GPs need to be aware of the benefits and risks of telehealth consultations and be equipped to recognise and respond to patients affected by or at risk of domestic violence.
Domestic violence (DV) involves a pattern of aggressive, coercive, controlling behaviour towards an intimate partner or family member or members and includes physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse. Such violence and abuse can have serious and lasting effects on mental and physical health. Recent Australian pre-COVID-19 statistics show that one in six people experience DV, with women three times more likely to be victims of DV than men.1 DV is a major cause of morbidity in reproductive-age women, but can also affect men in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, and may manifest as anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use as well as the more obvious physical injuries.