Monday, October 28, 2013

How Health Care Providers Can Fight Against Intimate Partner Violence

By Lisa James, Director of Health, and Vedalyn DeGuzman, Program Specialist, Futures Without Violence

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a health care problem of epidemic proportions. Nearly one in four women in the U.S. have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.1 Furthermore, a study found that women who talked to their healthcare provider about the abuse were four times more likely to use an intervention.2

In February of 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations to support screening and response to IPV — recommending that health plans provide the service. Also, new guidelines in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which ensure that select U.S. health plans will now cover annual screening and counseling for lifetime exposure to IPV, provide the opportunity to reach thousands more women and children with preventative messages and improve the health and safety of current victims of abuse.

Health care providers are in a unique position to help victims who seek routine or emergency care. However, health care providers often miss this golden opportunity to help a victim because they are not trained to screen patients for abuse. Simply by routinely screening patients for abuse and providing them with information about harm reduction strategies and referrals, we can make an enormous difference for victims and their children. In some cases, we can save lives by addressing both the acute and the immediate consequences of IPV as well as the chronic long term health conditions associated with a history of abuse.

The new health policies offer opportunities for deeper collaborations and coalition building between health providers and domestic/sexual violence advocates, and the potential for better outcomes for women. They may also likely lead to increased demands for training, coalition building and referrals over time. Millions of women, covered by employer-sponsored insurance, the new Insurance Marketplace, and Medicaid will be eligible to receive these services.

To learn more about screening in the health care setting, please view the Health Cares About IPV: Intimate Partner Violence Screening and Counseling Online Toolkit or call the National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence at 1-415-678-5500, or e-mail:

1 Black, Michele C., Kathleen C. Basile, Matthew J. Breiding, Sharon G. Smith, Mikel L. Walters, Melissa T. Merrick, Jieru Chen, and Mark R. Stevens. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2 McCloskey LA, Lichter E, Williams C, Gerber M, Wittenberg E, Ganz M. (2006). Assessing Intimate Partner Violence in Health Care Settings Leads to Women’s Receipt of Interventions and Improved Health. Public Health Reporter. 121(4):435-444.

Lisa James is Director of Health Care Programs at Futures Without Violence (FWV). Ms. James has collaborated with health care providers, domestic violence experts and health policy makers across the U.S. to develop statewide health care responses to domestic violence through training, health policy reform and public education. Ms. James has also worked with FWV’s international program, collaborating with leaders from non-governmental and health care organizations in Russia, Mexico, India and China to build the capacity of health systems, providers and community members to identify and help victims in reproductive health settings. Ms. James has a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from the University College Dublin, Ireland and a Bachelors Degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University, California.

Vedalyn DeGuzman is the Program Specialist of Health Care Programs at Futures Without Violence. Vedalyn works on several health care initiatives including the National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence which is attended by over 1,000 participants. Other initiatives involve providers from varied health settings including national educational activities with major health associations–specifically coordinating the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse, a collaborative of over 25 leading national professional health associations.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dancing with an Angel

By John Glass, Staff Trainer and Recreation Therapist, Sacramento Children's Home

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, you will hear many statistics about domestic violence. But behind the numbers are stories of real child victims. Although domestic violence is often thought of as a private issue between two partners, this is simply not the case. The ripple effect of abuse can be felt throughout communities, especially by children who are directly or indirectly exposed to it.

Angel (not her real name) moved to the Sacramento Children’s Home when she was 13 years old. She didn’t know her father, and her mother was an alcoholic who left her alone for days at a time or brought home strange men who abused her. Angel struggled with anger management issues and developed a daily smoking habit. When she entered the Children’s Home Residential Treatment Program, she was running away fairly often.

Growing increasingly concerned for her safety, staffers associated with Angel’s placement met with her to discuss the best way to move forward. They asked the teen, “What do you like to do? What do you feel you do well?”

Angel took a few moments and replied, “I like to dance.”

Coincidentally, we were just in the process of establishing an Expressive Arts program. The Specialist provided a variety of dance styles for Angel to experiment with, and she chose Jazz. Angel soon became the queen of our talent shows, and something interesting started to occur; Angel started caring about herself. She combed her hair neatly, she smiled more, she quit smoking, and she stopped running away. Angel realized she was good at something.

As a result, she began avoiding the negative influences of some of her peers. She attended school regularly and joined the dance program on campus. She began to take professional dance lessons off grounds. In fact, she did so well that she earned a scholarship to a state conference in Southern California. Angel was recognized for her dance achievements at a City Council meeting, and we celebrated in Old Sacramento with an enjoyable dinner.

Angel found her talent, and it changed her life. It boosted her self-esteem and gave her the motivation she needed to take on life.

Angel is just one of the many success stories coming out of the Residential Treatment Program at the Sacramento Children’s Home. Serving Northern California, the Children’s Home provides care for abused, neglected, traumatized and emotionally disturbed children, ages 6-18. Our Residential Treatment Program focuses on making significant and lasting behavioral changes through a combination of strength-based treatment, structured living environment, recreation activities, community engagements, and therapy.

Angel succeeded in large part because of her own talents, but also because she received the support, care, and encouragement to help her move past her previous hardships. At the Sacramento Children’s Home, our goal is to give children like Angel the treatment and tools they need to thrive.

A few years ago, Angel came by to say hello and see her old cottage. She was 32 years old at that time, and she shared with me that she was on her way to Japan. She was going to be teaching dance to children.

John Glass has worked at the Sacramento Children’s Home for 27 years and currently serves as the Staff Trainer and Recreation Therapist. He is a Nationally Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Independent Facilitator of the Love & Logic Parenting Curriculum, and Certified Pro-ACT Instructor (Crisis Intervention). John owns a training and consulting business specializing in social skills groups, parenting classes, teambuilding, individual crisis intervention plans, therapeutic recreation consulting, and CPR, AED, and 1st Aid instruction. He holds a Masters in Therapeutic Recreation.

The Sacramento Children's Home is committed to helping build strong families; to opening doors to the future; to maximizing potential; and ending the cycle of child abuse. Established in 1867, the Sacramento Children's Home provides care to the most vulnerable children and families in the Sacramento community. Community-based, residential and educational programs address the issues of children, newborn to 21, and range from prevention of child abuse and parenting education, to acute trauma treatment.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

PSA: Domestic Violence Knows No Boundaries




These are the unheard voices of domestic violence victims.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes in the nation.1 Due to a variety of factors including fear, embarrassment, and financial dependency, an estimated four out of five DV instances are unaccounted for.

Furthermore, a study conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications and the Avon Foundation for Women found that although 60% of Americans know a victim of DV and 80% believe DV is a problem in our society, only 15% think it is a problem among their own friends and family.2

Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that silence sustains violence.

This October, CalVCP has produced a video PSA in hopes of increasing social awareness and educating communities about the far reaching effects of DV. Our hope is that you will view and share this video, and join us in the fight to end domestic violence.

1 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Criminal Victimization,” 2003.

2 Avon Foundation for Women, “No More Study.” 2013.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This October, CalVCP kicks off its annual observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in an effort to spread awareness, help survivors, and move forward in the fight to eradicate domestic violence from our world.

Over a quarter of those applying for CalVCP assistance each year are victims of domestic violence (DV). DV isn’t strictly a personal matter or home issue, but an alarming and pervasive problem that affects 33 million of all U.S. adults, at a cost of over 5.8 billion dollars a year.

DV impacts victims, abusers, family members, friends and entire communities. Moreover, DV can happen to anyone, anywhere regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. To highlight the extensive reach of this crime, CalVCP’s 2013 DVAM efforts will center around the theme Domestic Violence Knows No Boundaries.

DVAM Resource Kit

In support of this year’s theme, CalVCP has released a variety of downloadable DVAM Theme Resources. You can help educate communities about the far reaching effects of DV by:

  • Printing and hanging DVAM posters and fliers
  • Sharing DVAM graphics on websites and social media
  • Posting DV awareness facts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Distributing CalVCP’s DV Fact Sheet

Blog: CalVCP Connection

Follow CalVCP’s DVAM blog series featuring guest authors who will share their knowledge on DV as it pertains to underserved and vulnerable populations.

Getting Involved: DVAM Events

Raise awareness of domestic violence by participating in one of more of the following DVAM events hosted throughout the state:
Regardless of where you are located, there are a variety of ways you can participate in DVAM throughout the month of October. We hope you will join CalVCP in supporting domestic violence survivors and taking a stand against this pervasive crime.