September with the Dreamers … Domestic Violence Action Center
Summer is over. Well, it’s still hot. But the calendar tells us we are into the new school year and all that it brings. With or without kids, we are all impacted by the beginning of private, public and university classes!
September is also Women’s Health Month. This gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of taking good care of our bodies, recognizing the value of good health and renewing our commitments to a healthy lifestyle. Safe relationships are included in that formula.
The correlation between partner violence and adverse health outcomes is strong and persuasive. The costs of health care are astronomical on a good day; if you are suffering harm from abuse, your costs are higher, as your need for health care is increased. Ourhealth care system has a key role to play in addressing domestic violence; a visit to your doctor, or a health care setting creates an opportunity to disclose your danger, receive support, obtain referrals, and consider your options in a safe place. The Centers for Disease Control reported that the average cost of health care services exceeds twice the average cost for men; the higher cost is “largely due” to the costs and impact of domestic violence.” Group Health researchers (WA) found that for survivors, health care costs average $585 per year higher than normal during the period of abuse; their health care costs rise to more than $1,200 year above non-abused women for the first two years after abuse and $444 after the third year. It is important to understand that harm occurs, too often, after partners separate. It’s also possible that victims cannot access health care services that they should be receiving when they they are with a controlling or abusive partner. Amy Bonomi, Ohio State University, co-author of the study asserts that the results suggest domestic abuse acts on health care costs much like chronic health conditions (consistent with what is found with people who quit smoking or abusing alcohol or drugs).
A study found that domestic violence results in more emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations, including greater use of physician services . The U.S. Department of Justice finds that 37% of women admitted to emergency rooms for care for violence related injuries were injured by a current or former intimate partner. The CDC examining costs from the 700,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in America in 2001 placed the annual estimated direct health care cost associated with domestic violence at around $4.8 billion.
Dr. Willie Parker
DVAC has been partnered with Queen’s Medical Center to bring practitioner and patient education to the health care setting and adjusting policy to improve screening and provide information routinely. In the first week of September (2015), DVAC staff were treated to an in-service session with Dr. Willie Parker, a former Queen’s doctor (and former member of the DVAC Board of Directors), who is enjoying a Visiting Professor stint at John A. Burns School of Medicine; he reinforced the principle that there is an essential and inextricably entwined relationship between our community domestic violence programs and our health care providers in service to survivors.
Good health is a healthy diet, good exercise, sufficient rest, psychological balance and a safe relationship. DVAC is absolutely committed to the advocacy necessary to improve the community’s understanding of the relationship between safe relationships and good health.
 The data was from 1995. It is expected that costs would be considerably higher in today’s dollars.