A significant proportion of Australian women experience intimate partner violence (IPV), many of them unidentified and thus not necessarily supported when they seek assistance in Emergency Departments. This article reviews the literature on IPV with a view to establishing the extent of the problem and the cost of IPV to the women, their families and the community. Electronic databases were searched using the keywords 'intimate partner violence', 'domestic violence', 'nursing' and 'emergency department'. The information obtained may inform health care professionals and assist with management, in the Emergency Department, of those who have experienced IPV. We explore the influence and impact of different types of care on women and the way women understand their experiences of care. From this review the following issues were identified as requiring further investigation: 1. the need to understand IPV from the women's perspective; 2. the factors influencing disclosure to ED staff; and 3. the type and consequent impact of care received in the ED.