Health Centers are Key to Violence Prevention
Monday, February 13, 2017
Anna Marjavi, Futures Without Violence
Editor's note: Anna will be presenting on this topic at the Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health in San Francisco on February 22.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is one of the most overlooked public health problem of our time, impacting millions of people in the U.S. each year and 1 in 4 women at some point in her lifetime. These unhealthy relationships can affect our patients’ health‒not only in the form of immediate harm but also through negative long-term health impacts. More than just physical injuries, research shows that survivors of IPV are more likely to experience things like hypertension, depression, and unplanned pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define IPV as a term that describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner.
Given their enormous reach and overarching goals to promote health and safety, health centers are uniquely positioned to be leaders in IPV prevention across the U.S. Luckily, evidence-based interventions are available, and health care providers can educate all of their patients on the health impact of violence, offer tailored health promotion strategies, and provide referrals if the patient discloses abuse. By doing this, health providers have an unprecedented opportunity to improve both health and safety.
Local and state domestic violence programs are integral partners to a successful clinical response to IPV and exist in most communities in which health centers are located. Many health centers have already partnered with domestic violence/sexual assault (DV/SA) organizations to implement interventions with promising results that achieve better health and safety outcomes for victims of domestic violence.
Futures Without Violence (FUTURES) recently worked with 10 health centers and 10 DV programs on a national pilot project supported by U.S. DHHS agencies—Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Administration for Children and Families—to promote partnerships, expand capacity, and improve outcomes for survivors of abuse. Under this pilot, health centers and partnering DV/SA programs tested a variety of steps, and key findings are distilled into an online toolkit: www.IPVhealthpartners.org for other health care providers, administrators, DV/SA advocates, and community partners to easily adapt for their own settings.
A workshop highlighting this pilot project and adaptable tools will be held at the upcoming 2017 Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health in San Francisco on Feb 22nd. FUTURES staff will co-present with staff from two of the project’s sites: CommuniCare Health Center (Woodland, CA) and Mariposa Community Health Center (Nogales, AZ). Speakers will highlight their local strategies and successes, including those that address vicarious trauma and resiliency so that other clinics can adapt the model in their own communities.
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