Hiding in Plain Sight

A Discourse Analysis of Registered Nurses' Capacity to Care for Female Intimate Partner Violence Presentations to the Emergency Department


  • Vijeta Venkataraman University of Sydney
  • Trudy Rudge University of Sydney
  • Jane Currie University of Sydney




Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Violence, Registered nurses, emergency department, critical discourse


The incidence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Australia is rising. Women experiencing IPV seek assistance through Emergency Departments (ED). Women exhibit help-seeking behaviours to nurses who work in emergency over medical or allied health professionals. Nurses’ capacity to recognise the need to care for women experiencing IPV is essential.

The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ capacity to care for women who have experienced IPV through outlining inhibiting factors that limit care and create a discourse that contributes to addressing these factors. Pre (n=10) and post (n=6) focus groups (FGs) were undertaken with nurses who work in ED. In between the FGs an intervention was applied to prompt change to caring practices. The discourse generated from the FGs was subjected to a Foucauldian discourse analysis from a poststructural feminist perspective. Participants’ capacity to care was found to be based on the values they formed on IPV, as shaped by their post-registration training. The formation of boundaries was fundamental in inhibiting the participants’ capacity to care. Challenging boundaries through educational inquiry into nursing values can be effective in shifting perspectives of IPV. The raising of awareness of IPV in our communities serves as a vital tool in eliciting cultural behaviour change within EDs and within nursing culture.


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Author Biographies

Vijeta Venkataraman, University of Sydney

Ms Vijeta Venkataraman (corresponding author), RN, B.Nurs (Hons.)

Trudy Rudge, University of Sydney

RN, BA(Hons.), PhD

Professor of Nursing, Susan Wakil School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Sydney.

Advisory Editor, Nursing Inquiry


Jane Currie, University of Sydney

PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons.) Nurse Practitioner & Senior Lecturer, Susan Wakil School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Sydney.


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How to Cite

Venkataraman, V., Rudge, T., & Currie, J. (2021). Hiding in Plain Sight: A Discourse Analysis of Registered Nurses’ Capacity to Care for Female Intimate Partner Violence Presentations to the Emergency Department. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 3(1), 85–97. https://doi.org/10.25071/2291-5796.73