Violence and Your Health

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The National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse (NHCVA), comprised of more than 30 national health professional organizations dedicated to addressing the health consequences of violence and abuse, held its annual meeting this month at the Center for Total Health. Brigid McCaw, MD, of Kaiser Permanente’s Family Violence Prevention Program participated in the meeting. “What I love about hosting meetings here at the center is the connections that you make. The center allows conversations to happen that are bigger than the building itself, bigger than what’s just included in its four walls. Diverse groups gather here and tackle issues bigger than themselves and implement real solutions to problems that impact everyone’s health.”

Two focus areas emerged during the meeting: 1) education of health care professionals from all disciplines and 2) understanding current/potential legislative policy on issues related to adult, child and elder abuse. All forms of violence were discussed. Speakers from medical societies, advocacy orgs and the federal government shared best practices so everyone could learn from one another.

“The relationship between violence and health is becoming more well-known. We know that exposure to violence as a child can impact your long-term health, said Paula Amato, MD, immediate past chair of NHCVA. “We need to promote the science of violence to the next generation of health care leaders.  Partners such as Kaiser Permanente, as well as other member organizations, are helping shape that progress.”

Moving forward, NHCVA members would like to see greater access to resources for victims of violence.  Health care providers and health systems are starting to share best practices in caring for victims of violence. Longer-term and, perhaps more pro-actively, health care systems can play a bigger role in the prevention, the intervention and the promotion of healthier relationships.

Futures without Violence is a member of NHCVA. Futures offers numerous resources for trauma-informed care. Through the collaborative work facilitated through NHCVA, we can expect to see promotion of tools for clinics and health professionals as well as discussions on what models of care are available to be better integrate care for victims of violence wherever they enter the health care system.

Ultimately, violence is just as much a part of someone’s health as are other social and behavioral determinants of health (e.g., race, ethnicity, food insecurity, depression, substance misuse, etc.)  Thankfully, the work of NHVCA are starting to raise the visibility of this issue and bringing forth the opportunity for real change.

Domestic Violence: It’s a Health Issue

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a good time to pause and consider just how many people are affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. The numbers are astounding. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by a domestic partner each year. And one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

Adults aren’t the only ones affected. Every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner. One in three adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

This episode of Total Health Radio talks about what teen dating violence looks like and some of the warning signs parents and friends should be watchful for. Guest Nancy Schwartzman, the inventor of the Circle of 6 mobile app, shares ways that young women can both prevent and cope with sexual assault.