DOMESTIC violence often goes unreported because many battered women are too frightened to turn to the authorities for help. When the police, usually male, are called in, traditional attitudes about not interfering in family disputes mean that little or nothing is done to help victims. Such attitudes are not surprising. After all, the police regard themselves as law enforcers and not social workers. It is little wonder that dealing with domestic violence has always been difficult for the police who are not professionally equipped to handle potentially explosive situations unless there is a breach of the law. That is about to change. Next month, police officers will be issued with set procedures on how to handle cases of domestic violence. They will be required to fill out forms every time they are called to a scene of domestic discord. They will also have to inform their superiors about the action they took in dealing with the situation. The measures will be a boost to police officers who until now have had only their common sense to guide them. The guidelines are a useful and vital step in recognising that the police can play an important role in identifying a worrying problem. However, introducing the measures alone are not enough. The larger problem is to overcome the fear that women have in reporting incidents of abuse and violence against them. Until the authorities recognise that domestic violence is a real and terrifying ordeal for its victims, it will continue to go unreported.