Health care providers play a critical role in helping domestic violence and sexual assault victims receive needed medical care and in gathering evidence used by the court system to help prevent abusers from striking again. To care for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, The Duke Endowment granted more than $9.5 million between 2000 and 2005 to help hospitals respond more effectively to medical needs and forensic exams.
The impact of domestic violence can be shattering to individuals, families and communities. For women in the United States between ages 15 and 44, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury. Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to have low-birthweight children. Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present. It often can be a silent scourge, frequently going unreported and unnoticed.
Equipping Providers to Meet Needs of Victims
Many victims turn to the health care system for help. Health care providers recognize the significant impact that domestic violence has on the health and well-being of individuals and families. To help prevent family violence from escalating, it is critical that hospitals and health care providers be equipped to meet the needs of these patients. By training health care providers to recognize signs of abuse and by equipping them to collect evidence that can be used to prosecute offenders, victims receive needed care and help.
- Information and Fact Sheet (pdf) from the American Psychiatric Association
- National statistics about intimate partner violence in the United States from the Bureau of Justice Statistics website
- Related work by The Duke Endowment: Supporting Children in Domestic Violence Shelters and Helping Mothers Overcome Domestic Violence
In 2001, The Duke Endowment began awarding grants to hospitals to strengthen domestic violence programs. Three primary objectives shaped grant activities:
- Educate health care providers to identify and respond to victims of domestic violence
- Improve training, skills and equipment needed to collect evidence and to document and treat victims of sexual assault
- Strengthen community partnerships by improving hospitals' ability to partner with community agencies to prevent abuse and help victims receive needed services
See participating sites in North Carolina and South Carolina.