BACKGROUND : South Africa is perceived to be one of the countries with the worst reputation
regarding the occurrence of intimate partner violence. The women who suffer from serious
physical injuries are admitted to emergency care units and their first contact with health care
is through the nurses in these units. Emergency care nurses become secondary victims of
violence due to their exposure to the pain of assaulted patients. Female nurses tend to
identify with these patients as some nurses are in similar relationships. Not much research
has been done on the challenges that male nurses face when they are confronted with abuse
of women inflicted by males.
METHODOLOGY : In this case study with a phenomenological research methodology two African
male emergency care nurses were interviewed.
FINDINGS : The participants experienced a dichotomy of being-in-nursing and being-in-society
and had been confronted with the conflicting roles of being men (the same sex as the
perpetrators) and being nurses (the carer of the victim). They tried to manage the situation
by using the ‘self’ to care for the patient and to be a problem solver for the patient and her
partner or husband.
CONCLUSION : The authors conclude that society expects men not to be in a caring profession and
nursing is still a female-dominated caring profession that finds it difficult to move away from its
engendered and caring image. The participants experienced role conflict when they took care of
female patients who have suffered intimate partner violence.