Domestic violence nurses, also known as forensic nurse examiners, examine and treat a particularly complex and vulnerable population—domestic violence victims. While all nurses have a responsibility to report signs of domestic violence to the proper authorities, domestic violence nurses are specially trained to screen individuals—typically women, children and the elderly—for signs of physical and sexual abuse from their home life. These nurses identify and assess injuries, document their occurrences and connect individuals to intervention resources. They help foster a health care environment that makes patients more comfortable disclosing these traumatizing experiences, and photograph injuries to aid in the prosecution of the victim’s abusers.
Educational requirements for domestic violence nurses vary based on where they work. Some domestic violence nurses work in emergency rooms, but have received in-house training in detecting signs of domestic violence. These nurses may only require an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school of nursing and state licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN). Domestic violence nurses who scientifically examine evidence may need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in forensic nursing or a master’s degree in forensic science, and will also need to maintain an RN license. Many employers will want you to undergo Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training in preparation for the job.
Salary information for domestic violence nursing job titles is limited, but entry-level forensic nurses earn between $28 and $39.55 an hour, according to a limited sample of nurses posting their incomes on Payscale.com. Domestic violence nurses will be most in demand as forensic nurse examiners who work with sexual assault victims. Domestic violence nurses often find their work rewarding because, as a link between health care and law enforcement, these nurses help put perpetrators of violent crimes behind bars and treat the most vulnerable members of society. Many of these nurses are encouraged by the knowledge that they’ve played a role in helping victimized individuals get quality health care.