Four hundred ninety-two male and female patients from a general hospital emergency department were surveyed to elicit information on the extent and nature of domestic violence among this population. The patient's emergency department medical records were also reviewed. Twenty-two percent of the patients identified themselves on the survey as domestic violence victims. New findings in the areas of medical classification, nature of the abusive relationship, and patients' perceived treatment needs contribute to refining the battered spouse syndrome and are helpful in planning therapeutic intervention. The authors conclude that domestic violence victims should be identified and offered assistance while in the emergency department and outline a crisis intervention plan.