Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Help Available for Domestic Violence Victims

The tragic case of Yeardley Love, a UVA student killed this week during an altercation with her ex-boyfriend, is an unfortunate reminder that domestic violence can impact anyone.

"Anyone can find themselves caught in an abusive relationship," says Northwest Hospital Domestic Violence (DOVE) program coordinator Audrey Bergin. "Here were two young people who are well-educated and, by all accounts, successful athletes who found themselves in this terrible situation. It's a reminder that domestic violence does not discriminate."

Since the DOVE program began five years ago, Bergin and her staff have helped more than 800 victims, many of whom came in through Northwest ER-7. The program staff educates Northwest’s entire in-house medical staff about how to recognize signs of abuse, how to screen for it, and what victims’ rights and reporting laws are. Additionally, staff provide 24/7 crisis counseling for the people it helps, gives education to domestic violence victims about their legal options and will accompany victims to court.

The Family Violence Program at Sinai Hospital is also dedicated to breaking the cycle of abuse, providing individual and group counseling for women, ongoing support services, services coordination, legal information and court advocacy.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 24 hours a day. You can find a complete list of services available in Maryland by clicking here.

Sadly, only 4 percent of domestic violence homicide victims had reached out to a domestic violence hotline at the time of their death, Bergin says. That's why first responders, including Baltimore County Police, are increasingly using a "lethality assessment", a series of 11 questions developed by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence that has been shown to improve victim safety. To learn more, you can watch this ABC News video or click here.

To learn more about violence prevention programs at LifeBridge Health, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

No comments: