Domestic Violence Nurse

What Is a Domestic Violence Nurse?

Domestic violence nurses, sometimes referred to as domestic violence nurse examiners, care for patients who have been victims of physical or emotional abuse within a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. This relatively new and rapidly expanding specialty field is actually considered an offshoot of forensic nursing, and is an excellent option for anyone who has a keen interest in both the criminal justice system and medicine. Registered nurses within this specialty work in a wide range of settings, from community centers to hospitals to advocacy groups and support groups which are dedicated to serving victims of abuse. The primary responsibility of the domestic violence nurses is to help patients heal from and cope with any trauma that has resulted from physical, mental, and emotional domestic violence. Moreover, these nurses are in charge of keeping precise and accurate patient records that may be used as evidence in the court of law. Domestic violence nurses need to be highly empathetic, sensitive, supportive, and understanding in order to provide the most compassionate care to traumatized patients.

What Are Some Domestic Violence Nurse Duties?

Common duties that domestic violence nurses are tasked with may include:

  • Act as a source of mental, emotional, and physical support for patients
  • Examine, assess, and provide physical and mental care to domestic violence victims
  • Collect and record pertinent information regarding the patient's injuries, medical history, and experiences
  • Comfort patients so that the interdisciplinary medical team can provide them with adequate care
  • Work alongside police and attorneys and appear in court on behalf of patients
  • Collect and preserve evidence to be presented in the court of law
  • Refer patients to therapy and provide them with additional resources
  • Collaborate with doctors and law enforcement officers to document and report the patient's injuries

Where Do Domestic Violence Nurses Work?

Common job settings for domestic violence nurses include:

  • Public health offices
  • Hospitals
  • Community clinics
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Domestic violence support groups

How to Become a Domestic Violence Nurse

Beginning a career as a domestic violence nurses means first becoming a licensed registered nurse. After becoming licensed, prospective domestic violence nurses can choose from a number of options to advance toward their career goals. Some will choose to become trained as sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), while others will look to gain a Certification in Forensic Nursing (CFN). Lastly, for the incredibly ambitious, there are advanced degree programs which can position graduates nicely for the Advanced Forensic Nursing Certification (AFN-BC).

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The minimum educational requirements must be met to become a domestic violence nurse:

  • Hold an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN prelicensure exam
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license

* For the advanced foresing nursing certification, graduate degrees are also required

Do Domestic Violence Nurse Need an RN Degree?

Yes, due to the complex and sensitive nature of the work they perform, domestic violence nurses are required to hold active and unencumbered RN licenses, typically with a BSN degree or higher.

Step 2: Required Domestic Violence Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Although they're not always required, domestic violence nurses who are looking to be as competitive as possible in the job market are advised to seek the following certifications:

To be eligible for the Forensic Nurse Certification which is offered by the American Institute of Healthcare Professionals, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Provide proof of completion of an ADN or BSN degree
  • Provide proof of your active and unrestricted RN license
  • Complete the application

To be eligible for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certifications which are offered by the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Provide proof of an ADN or BSN degree
  • Have two or more years of experience as an RN
  • Complete a 40-hour SANE course by an accredited provider
  • Have 300 hours of SANE practice within the previous three years

To be eligible for the Advanced Forensic Nursing Certification which is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Have at least two years of full-time experience as an RN
  • Hold a graduate degree
  • Have at least 2,000 practice hours in forensic nursing in the past three years
  • Have completed at least 30 continuing education hours within the last three years

Domestic Violence Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

Domestic violence nursing can be emotionally draining, since the vast majority of your patients will be victims of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. To be effective in this career, you'll need to possess a level of psychological stability and emotional maturity that's uncommon to most people. Having these traits will allow you to better assist victims of domestic violence to overcome the challenges that they're faced with following an assault.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Excellent observation and assessment skills, strong interpersonal communication abilities, compassion, empathy, sensitivity, meticulous documentation skills, knowledge of the signs of domestic violence, teamwork, and stress management skills
  • Job Outlook – The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of available employment opportunities for RNs will increase by about 16% between 2014 and 2024. Domestic violence nurses, particularly those with SANE certifications, are in very high demand, especially in urban settings where there are an abundance of sexual assault and rape cases that warrant specialized medical care.

What Is the Average Salary of a Domestic Violence Nurse?

According to, the average yearly salary for forensic nurses is approximately $65,000. The employer, city/state, clinical experience level, and educational backgrounds of the nurse are all important factors that will contribute to earning potential. Aside from their base salaries, domestic violence nurses can expect to receive benefits packages which are likely to include medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage. An annual allotment of paid time off and/or sick leave is also typical for this profession.

How Much Do Domestic Violence Nurses Make per Year?

  • $55,000 – $81,000 annually

How Much Do Domestic Violence Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $33.00 average hourly wage

Domestic Violence Nurse Resources