DV Healthcare Initiative

Domestic violence is a health-care problem of epidemic proportions in New Jersey and throughout the U.S.

Did You Know…

  • Nationally, nearly one-third of American women (31%) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
  • Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.
  • Alarmingly, approximately 1,320 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every year –more than three women a day.
  • The CDC recognizes domestic violence as a serious public health issue.
  • In August 2011, the HHS announced guidelines for complete insurance coverage – without co-pays – of Domestic Violence screening and counseling as part of women’s health care.

Healthcare professionals are in a unique position to privately screen for abuse as a routine activity of patient contact. We know that properly trained doctors and nurses are uniquely qualified to help battered women who see them for routine and emergency care.

Studies indicate screenings are effective in identifying patients who are being victimized and that patients are not insulted at having been asked. So often, women say they wish someone had asked about their situation. Conversely, healthcare providers ask, “What if we ask and she says she is a victim, then what?” Womanspace is prepared to help you respond to this concern with concrete suggestions, including “what to say, how to say it, and what referral information will be most helpful”.

Healthcare & Domestic Violence Initiative

Currently, doctors and nurses routinely screen for high blood pressure and high cholesterol but unfortunately, too few screen for domestic or sexual violence. Our goal at Womanspace is to change this dynamic. Using our demonstrated success in partnering with other professionals (such as law enforcement, the courts, schools, colleges and universities) to build a coordinated community response for victims, we will further engage healthcare professionals to join the collaborative effort to potentially save lives and help prevent future incidences of domestic and sexual violence.

The Womanspace Healthcare Initiative was developed by a team of healthcare professionals and domestic violence advocates and is based on a national model intended to encourage routine screening of all patients for histories of interpersonal violence.

  • The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has set standards for responding to domestic abuse.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recognized domestic violence as a serious public health issue.
  • This August 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary announced guidelines for complete insurance coverage – without co-pays – of Domestic Violence screening and counseling as part of women’s health care.

The Womanspace Healthcare Initiative is actively building partnerships in the Mercer County Healthcare Community.  In the past year, we…

  • Successfully partnered with University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Brunswick, becoming a rotation site for third year medical students and participating in the presentation of a training of all third year students and the University.
    • Feedback is overwhelmingly positive both from the medical students and from our clients who are choosing to participate in the training project.
  • We presented at the New Jersey Obstetrics and Gynecological Society Annual Meeting in Atlantic City in June, 2011
  • We participated in a day-long conference at Capital Health, Hamilton Campus on October 14, 2011 entitled “Breaking the Silence: Understanding and Treating Hidden Disorders.”

We’re Just Getting Warmed Up!

Our goal is to train every healthcare professional in Mercer County on how to effectively screen a patient and how to refer a victim. We plan to provide educational webinars on screening practices as well as in-office training. We enthusiastically seek your involvement and interest as we create the same strong ties to the healthcare community that we have with so many other arms of human services in the county.

It is vital to remember that helping a victim means decreasing her isolation and  kindly asking a few key questions and understanding how to respond. A door to safety can be opened for someone who may not have known that a door to safety existed at all. Please contact us for training or technical assistance in developing and implementing a screening protocol. Also, please let us know if you need materials and resources.

Call Pat Hart, Executive Director at Womanspace, at 609.394.0136.

DV Screening Tool for Health Care Providers

This type of screening and response can and does save lives.

While inquiring about abuse may seem difficult at first, recognizing that it is important, legitimate and potentially lifesaving to ask can help clinicians overcome their initial hesitations and become comfortable addressing domestic violence with their patients. Clinicians can help decrease a woman’s potential discomfort by framing questions in ways that let her know she is not alone, that the provider takes this issue seriously and is comfortable hearing about abuse, and that help is available. With practice, each clinician can develop his/her own style of asking questions about abuse.

If a Woman Does Not Acknowledge Abuse

If a patient says abuse is not occurring but the clinician is still concerned about abuse, there remains a variety of issues which may be discussed. Let her know your concerns. Sometimes a patient may listen silently, without overtly acknowledging what is being said. In this case, it is still helpful to offer information about abuse. Be sure to provide the woman with a referral sheet or phone numbers. Encourage her return if she has any problems in the future and/or to contact any of the resources that have been provided.

Read and download the complete screening protocol.

Remember: If you are not sure what to do, refer the patient to Womanspace and contact us for an in-office training session.

Contact us for training or technical assistance in developing and implementing a screening protocol. Also, please let us know if you need materials and resources

Call Pat Hart, Executive Director at Womanspace, at 609.394.0136.

Resources & Links for Health Care Providers

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about how healthcare professionals can participate in effectively supporting victims of domestic violence. Please contact us if you would like someone on our team to provide training or technical assistance in developing and implementing a screening protocol. You can also reach out to us for materials and resources.

The following resources provide data and comprehensive information on this topic:

http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/
http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/overview/index.html
http://www.pcadv.org

 

Call Pat Hart, Executive Director at Womanspace, at 609.394.0136.

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