Connecting Survivors to the Health Care and Support They Need
National Women’s Health Week | May 9th – 16th
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a national health concern affecting millions of people each year. One in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older in the U.S. will have been the victims of severe physical violence in their lifetime (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010), and nearly half of all female homicide victims are killed by a current or former dating partner (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2017). In honor of National Women’s Health Week and our commitment to create a world free of violence for women across the United States, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is pleased to announce that we have partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Family and Youth Services Bureau, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program (FVPSA); Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC); and HRSA Office of Women’s Health (OWH) to create the Survivor Health Connection Project. Given our subject matter expertise, scope, and national reach, through this partnership, our organizations can significantly impact the health outcomes of those affected by relationship abuse and prevent future experiences of abuse by supporting those experiencing or at risk for domestic violence.
Did you know IPV impacts health in many ways? Women in violent relationships are significantly more likely to experience mental health concerns than women in nonviolent relationships, specifically, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Temple, Weston, and Marshall, 2010). Overall poor health and chronic health problems—including headaches, memory loss, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal disorders—are common among women who have experienced abuse (World Health Organization, Understanding and Addressing Violence Against Women 2012). Physical and mental health are essential components of a survivor’s ability to be safe and recover from the physical and psychological trauma experienced. Yet, many survivors are still hesitant to tell their health care provider about their abusive experience or to seek medical attention at all.
Through the Survivor Health Connection Project, The Hotline will collaborate with ACF FVPSA, HRSA BPHC, and HRSA OWH to train HRSA-funded Community Health Center (CHC) providers on how to safely refer patients to needed relationship abuse and prevention services, including The Hotline and local domestic violence service programs. The Hotline will also train its entire advocate staff on the unique services provided by CHCs and support access to healthcare through the Find a Health Center tool. These two-way referrals are vital for those who contact The Hotline needing health care.
The connection between one’s abusive experience and their health is profound. A survivor’s journey to safety must include access to health care — and we aren’t just talking about physical health.
Behavioral, oral and spiritual health are all essential to a survivor’s wellbeing. The Hotline is dedicated to eliminating the stigma and shame associated with abuse and empowering survivors to feel comfortable in sharing their experience with abuse with their healthcare provider.
If you or someone you know needs access to health care, the Find a Health Center tool will help you find a local CHC—regardless of your insurance status or ability to pay. CHCs are designed to provide comprehensive care to everyone who needs it. To find more resources on how to talk to your provider about your experience and protect your health information, visit this resource. If you need to talk through anything before you speak to your doctor, feel free to reach out to one of our advocates at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or by online chat at www.thehotline.org. This National Women’s Health Week and always — know that you deserve to live a happy, healthy life that is free from violence. We are here for you 24/7. For more tips on how on healthier living, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or visit the Office on Women’s Health.