Health professionals should be given the skills to identify and support domestic abuse victims, the British Medical Association (BMA) has claimed.
One in nine women are severely physically abused in any one year, figures show, and one in four women are domestic abuse victims during their lifetime.
But only 23% of domestic abuse incidents are reported to the police.
Doctors and nurses should work with other services to provide earlier detection of domestic abuse, the BMA has said.
Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the BMA’s board of science said: “On average, female victims are subjected to 37 attacks before the police become involved. During this time a large number of these may come into contact with their GP, accident and emergency doctors, obstetricians, midwives or nurses.
“It is important that we give healthcare professionals the confidence to identify and support victims, and continue to work to raise awareness amongst doctors which is why we are working with Baroness Scotland’s Global Alliance to develop E-learning materials to give doctors the tools to help sooner victims of this appalling crime.”