Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day 2008

Oct 29, 2008

Hospitals, clinics, medical students and educators around the nation are holding activities this month to encourage health care providers to routinely assess patients for domestic violence. October 8 was the 10th annual Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day (HCADV Day), organized by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF). Educational sessions by, and for, the health care community continue throughout October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For the fourth year, the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) partnered with the FVPF to organize medical school campuses nationwide around this issue.

This year the American Medical Association and the AMA Alliance, a network of physicians and physicians’ spouses, also joined the FVPF to strengthen the health care response to violence. The American Medical Association is offering free resources to health care providers here. The AMA has sent materials directly to its members, and publicized the day in EVoice, an electronic journal. The AMA Alliance hosted a public event in Chicago to encourage providers to identify and support victims – as part of HCADV Day and the Stop America’s Violence Everywhere Program.

“Doctors, nurses and other health care providers can do a tremendous amount to help victims of domestic, dating and sexual violence, but too often fail to do so because they haven’t been trained to assess patients for abuse,” said FVPF President Esta Soler. “Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day helps 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.”

Women often sustain injuries from domestic, dating and sexual violence, but it also can harm them in other ways. Physical and psychological abuse are linked to a range of health problems including: arthritis; chronic neck, back and pelvic pain; sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS); complications during pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy; substance abuse; migraine and other headaches; ulcers; and chronic irritable bowel syndrome.

Among the many Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day activities that took place on October 8 and throughout the month:

  • Arizona: Northwest Medical Center, The Women’s Center, in Tucson is holding four “Lunch and Learn” trainings in October – each addressing different aspects of domestic violence. The trainings focus on safety options for women and children, Victim Witness services, cross cultural domestic violence issues with a focus on Native Americans, effects of domestic violence on children, and domestic violence routine assessment techniques.
  • California: Feather River Tribal Health in Oroville is collaborating with Catalyst, a local domestic violence agency/shelter, for a Domestic Violence Art Gala at which local artists and women display their works. The women also are doing a Mask project that is open to the community.
  • Kansas: Catholic Charities Harbor House in Wichita is distributing posters, brochures, and candy jars with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and HCADV Day messages to each department in a local hospital. All year, staff members will refill the jars to continue the education.
  • New Mexico/Navajo Nation: Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Health Center in the eastern part of Navajo Nation has silhouettes/silent witnesses in its waiting area throughout October. They have signs such as, “You see the bruises, yet you didn't ask if I was okay.” The clinic has flyers with detachable tabs in its bathrooms. In triage, all patients are assessed for partner violence. In coordination with the Northern Navajo Medical Center medical social workers, the Clinic is displaying silhouettes and banners, handing out materials, and holding a candlelight vigil at the 97th Annual Northern Navajo (Shiprock) Fair.
  • Pennsylvania: The Domestic Abuse Project in Media is holding a “Bulletin Board in a Bag” event throughout Delaware County in October. Advocates are delivering literature, including posters, brochures, hotline cards, power-and-control wheels, statistics, purple ribbons and more, in a bag to private medical offices for staff members to display.
  • Ontario, Canada: The Regional Sexual & Domestic Assault Treatment Centre at the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital hosted a “lunch & learn” and “meet & greet” to give partners and staff members information about the hospitals’ services. The lunch emphasized how patients can get assistance.

“Domestic violence can have immediate health consequences through injury, but it also can cause life-threatening conditions that affect survivors throughout their lives,” said FVPF Health Director Lisa James. “We aren’t doing all we should to help victims because too many health professionals don’t ask patients if they are experiencing abuse in their relationships. Providers routinely assess patients for potentially deadly conditions like high blood pressure, and for dangerous behaviors like smoking, but few take the time to ask about violence. We aim to change that.”

Free materials, including national consensus guidelines and model protocols for responding to domestic violence, are available toll-free by dialing 1-888-RX-ABUSE or 1-800-595-4889 (TTY), or by clicking here.


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