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Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

Violence Against Women

List of Articles

  • Human Trafficking and Exploitation
    Today, some label human trafficking as a form of "modern day slavery," and frequently, human trafficking has been linked to sex work and prostitution, although there are other forms of trafficking, such as forced labor and domestic work. Human trafficking can involve women, men, and children. Human trafficking is one of the worst abuses of human rights. Because the roots of human trafficking are multifaceted, no one solution exists to eliminate this problem. Unfortunately, as the problem grows, healthcare practitioners will be confronted with the issue in their patient populations. Practitioners should be committed to the collaboration amongst disciplines to address poverty, racism, discrimination, and oppression in order to reduce the vulnerable positions of human trafficking victims and their families. Because of the social justice component in the codes of ethics of professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors, all practitioners can play a key role in the individual, community, and systemic levels to help address this gross abuse of power. One way to begin is to educate oneself and one's respective disciplines about the global nature of human trafficking and the complex dynamics of the problem. This information is presented with the intention of educating health care providers on the long-term medical needs of survivors and on how they can establish a healthcare clinic in their communities. We encourage healthcare providers across the globe to evaluate local trafficking populations care needs and attempt to provide trauma-informed care to these patients. For individuals who are interested in creating such services in their community, a list of steps to guide this process are provided.

  • Sexual Violence
    Physicians who make screening for a history of sexual assault a routine part of clinical practice provide tertiary prevention of long-term and persistent physical and mental consequences of sexual assault. Healthcare providers should be aware of the existence of local protocols, including the use of specially trained sexual assault examiners or sexual assault forensic examiners. Long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse are varied, complex, and often devastating. Survivors come from all cultural, racial, and economic groups. Traumatized patients generally benefit from mental health care. The healthcare provider can be a powerful ally in the patientís healing by offering support and referral. Efforts should be made to refer survivors to professionals with significant experience in abuse-related issues.

  • Domestic Violence: Screening And Intervention
    Domestic violence continues to be a prevalent problem in the United States. In order to prevent domestic violence and promote the well-being of their patients, healthcare professionals in all settings must take the initiative to properly assess all women for abuse during each visit and, for those women who are or may be victims, to offer education, counseling, and referral information. A tremendous barrier to diagnosing and treating domestic violence is a lack of knowledge and training. It is imperative that healthcare professionals work together to establish specific guidelines that will facilitate identification of batterers and their victims. During the assessment process, a practitioner must be open and sensitive to the client's/patient's worldview, cultural belief systems. The long-term focus on domestic violence is responsible for major reforms on multiple levels within various systemic functions related to criminal prosecution, legislative views and actions, and healthcare protocols. Encouraging health care providers to address overall preventive health care may also improve screening for this important public health issue.

  • Domestic Violence During Pregnancy
    Intimate partner violence affects 1 out of 4 women in the US and has a tremendous effect on the health and well-being of female patients. The medical community is uniquely positioned to lessen this impact, at the very least by alleviating the isolation that is often integral to victimization. In accordance with expert guidelines, clinicians should screen all women for partner abuse and provide support and information about available resources for patient identified as victims of violence. Domestic violence is a multifaceted problem with high prevalence and substantial costs to society. Using these time-saving screening tools can facilitate discussion of abuse. However, it is important to note that a positive screen with any of the tools demands further evaluation. The military environment possesses a unique set of circumstances and stressors that may directly affect family violence. These include periods of family separation, tensions between the demands of duty and the demands of family life, stress related to the military mission, frequent relocation, perceived dangers associated with military training and combat, as well as financial stressors. Screening for a controlling or threatening partner among women with even mild postpartum depression may identify those who are at higher risk for long-term depression.

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