Abuse is defined as the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. It can occur to anyone of any age and gender and from any walk of life. It can take the form of physical battery, emotional bullying, psychological coercion, sexual abuse, or neglect (“Abuse – Helpguide.org,” n.d.). I have faced several situations where my patient is being abused in some way. The challenge I personally face when it comes to the subject of abuse, is knowing what steps to take and what to say to that person. Three particular situations come to mind when I think of abuse: 1) the physically abused patient, 2) the emotionally abused patient and 3) the neglected patient.
The physically abused patient:
I am currently in a situation on my paediatric block where I am treating a 10 month old girl whose head was bashed into the pavement by her mother’s boyfriend. The mother is blind, which further complicates the situation. I have not yet met the mother or the father of my patient, as no one was present during my initial assessment, but my mind has been filled with questions and I have been wondering how to handle the situation. At this stage, the mother may need counselling and empathy and the child may need counselling as she gets older.
The emotionally abused patient:
While I was on my NMS block, one of my patients opened up to me and expressed how awful her husband was towards her and all of the terrible things he would say both directly to her and about her to other people. She may not have seen this as abuse, but in my mind she was being emotionally abused by her husband. I did my best to provide counselling and advice, and recommended that she see someone more equipped to deal with the situation. Ultimately, her demeanour improved by the end of the treatment session. I came to the conclusion that much of her physical pain may have been linked to her emotional pain, and through releasing this emotional pain and discussing her issues, she experienced a slight relief in pain.
The neglected patient
In the case of the elderly and very young patients, neglect occurs far too often. I have treated elderly patients who have no family or friends visiting them, and have no family willing to or able to care for them once they are discharged. Currently, on my paeds block, I have encountered several patients who are on some level being neglected by their parents. Some of the patients only got injured due to their parents neglecting them, while others are to some degree neglected by their parents while in the hospital. One patient in particular is often left alone, crying because she is hungry, only for me to find her mother sitting outside talking on her cellphone. Even when the mother is in the room, she ignores her baby’s desperate cries for attention.
These situations can be frustrating to a healthcare professional. For me personally, I know that the police have arrested the man who physically abused the 10 month old girl. I know that my patient who is being emotionally abused now possesses the tools to deal with and that she is determined to escape her current situation. In terms of neglect, it is slightly more challenging to deal with.
Helpguid.org is a site which offers a guide to understanding child abuse especially, but the information can be of great use when dealing with adults who are being abused as well. Go to www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm for a full guide on recognizing abuse and how to deal with it.
Abuse – Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/abuse.htm