Intimate Partner Violence and a Pandemic: What Healthcare Workers Need to Know


  • Bethany Davis, MA, LSWAIC Virginia Mason Medical Center



This is Sarah’s second week at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, Washington, as a certified nursing assistant. Sarah is in her early 20s, and she’s working on getting more experience in patient care to help her in applying to nursing schools in the future. This week she has been getting more familiar with her clinic and patient care, remembering names and schedules. It is all new and exciting for Sarah as she heads to her clinic.

Walking into the first exam room of the day, Sarah finds a 35-year-old female patient sitting with her partner, just a few feet between them. The woman’s arms are folded as she smiles at Sarah.

Sarah introduces herself and explains that she is going to conduct vitals on the patient before the doctor comes in to see her. Sarah begins assessing and when she rolls up the woman’s sleeve, she notices bruises on her arm. Sarah’s curiosity increases.

Sarah asks about health concerns. “I’m fine,” the patient says while staring at the floor. Sarah continues questioning about her background, the reason for her visit, her living situation.

The patient’s partner puts an arm over the patient and starts answering for her. “She’s just shy. I can tell you.”

Sarah’s gut feels like there is something off. Her stomach plummets to the floor as she thinks, What do I do?

Author Biography

Bethany Davis, MA, LSWAIC, Virginia Mason Medical Center

Bethany Davis ( is a clinical social worker in Seattle, Washington, and also owns a private practice for psychotherapy. She enjoys writing about mental health and the resilience and strength of the human spirit. Davis is an alumna of the University of Washington School of Social Work. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, running, spending time with family, and taking her niece and nephew on walks.

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How to Cite

Davis, B. . (2020). Intimate Partner Violence and a Pandemic: What Healthcare Workers Need to Know. Patient Safety, 2(3), 58–63.
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