From Coast to Coast, Hospitals & Clinics Join ‘Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day 2010’
Events Encourage Providers to Assess Patients for Violence, Aid Victims and Address Lifelong Health Consequences of Abuse
SAN FRANCISCO – Hospitals, clinics, medical students and educators around the nation are holding activities this week and throughout October to encourage health care providers to routinely assess patients for domestic violence. October 13 is the 12th annual Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day, a nationally recognized awareness-raising day that takes place on the second Wednesday of October each year. It is organized by the Family Violence Prevention Fund. Educational sessions by—and for—the health care community will continue throughout October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Doctors, nurses and other health care providers can be virtual lifelines for victims of domestic, dating and sexual violence, but too often they do not provide all the help they could because they haven’t been trained to assess patients for abuse,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day is designed to help improve the health care system’s response to violence by giving medical professionals the information and support they need to help victims and their children.”
While women can suffer injuries from domestic, dating and sexual violence, it also causes long-lasting harm of other kinds. Physical and psychological abuse are linked to a wide range of health problems including: sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS); complications during pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy; arthritis; chronic neck, back and pelvic pain; substance abuse; migraine and other headaches; ulcers; and chronic irritable bowel syndrome.
Among the many Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day activities set for today and later this month:
- California: The San Francisco Department of Public Health MCAH’s Perinatal Services and the Bay Area Legal Aid are sponsoring a brown bag lunch focusing on domestic violence and legal issues on Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day.
- Hawaii: Lana’i Domestic Violence Task force is sponsoring a family-friendly event on Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day with Lana’i Community Health Center, Straub Family Clinic and Ke Ola Hou O’Lana’i by the Dole Administration building in Honolulu. Music, games, food and prizes as well as educational information about domestic violence are part of the festivities. Later this month, the Task Force will partner with Women Helping Women for a Domestic Violence Awareness Month candlelight vigil to commemorate those who lost their lives due to domestic violence this year.
- Michigan: A Charlotte AmeriCorps volunteer has recruited seven Michigan State University nursing students to distribute domestic violence literature to doctors, hospitals and clinics in the community on Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day. The literature includes information on local resources, a patient education safety card, a poster and guidelines for identifying and responding to abuse. Nursing students conducted the same outreach last year and it was highly successful in reaching health care providers in rural communities.
- North Dakota: Valley City State University is hosting a week of events for Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day. Activities range from a self-defense course, to a resource booth/table at the student center, to students delivering posters for exam rooms, safety cards for bathrooms, and assessment cards for health care providers.
- Oklahoma: The Kaw Nation Domestic Violence Project is hosting a two-hour presentation at the Kanza Clinic on October 13 – Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day. It addresses domestic violence and health care workers, and issues regarding full faith and credit. Staff members from the project will staff booths and distribute information for health care practitioners at two health/craft fairs to spread the word the Kaw Nation’s new Domestic Violence Project.
- Pennsylvania: The Domestic Abuse Project is hosting a traveling display of awareness-raising materials throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Abuse Project staff will organize tables at the five hospitals in the Crozer Keystone Health Services system, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, and seven county hospitals, setting up a display with posters, brochures, hotline cards, power-and-control wheels, statistics, purple ribbons and more. The display will also feature a clothesline with t-shirts that domestic violence victims have decorated.
In advance of Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day, the Family Violence Prevention Fund released the Compendium of State Statutes and Policies on Domestic Violence and Health Care, an at-a-glance summary of state laws and regulations relevant to addressing domestic violence in health care settings. It includes new analyses and themes that reflect policy and programmatic changes made in the last decade by leaders in the fields of health care, policy and domestic/sexual violence advocacy. It is available online and more information is available here.
“We aren’t doing all we should to help victims of domestic and sexual violence because too many health professionals don’t ask patients if they are experiencing abuse in their relationships,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund Health Director Lisa James. “A recent study found that a brief intervention where young women were asked about reproductive coercion and then counseled about harm-reduction strategies were 60 percent more likely to report ending a relationship because it felt unsafe or unhealthy. Providers routinely assess patients for high blood pressure and smoking, but few take the time to ask about violence. Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day shines a spotlight on all the ways the health care system can make a real difference in the lives of women and children facing violence.”
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that, on average in this country, four to five women are murdered each day by their husbands or boyfriends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that women in the United States experience two million injuries from domestic violence each year and nearly one in four women reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend sometime in her life.
For more than a decade, the National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence has supported health care practitioners, administrators and systems, domestic violence experts, survivors, and policy makers as they improve health care’s response to domestic violence. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Center supports leaders in the field through groundbreaking model professional, education and response programs, cutting-edge advocacy and sophisticated technical assistance. Free materials, including national consensus guidelines and model protocols for responding to domestic violence, are available through the toll-free number, 1-888-RX-ABUSE or 1-800-595-4889 (TTY), or by visiting the FVPF’s web site, www.endabuse.org/health.
The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence develops educational resources, training materials and model protocols on domestic violence and routine assessment to help health care providers better serve battered women. The Health Resource Center provides critical information to tens of thousands of health care providers, institutions, domestic violence service providers, government agencies, researchers and policy makers each year.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because everyone has the right to live free of violence. More information is available at www.endabuse.org.
NOTE: More information on Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day 2010 is available at www.endabuse.org/hcadvd.