Thursday, October 17, 2013

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Most people know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know that it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that one in four women and one in seven men will be affected by physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, so this issue might be closer to home than you think. Learn about what GBMC is doing to help victims of domestic violence, and what steps to take if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation.

The Domestic Violence Program at GBMC is one of seven hospital-based domestic violence programs in the state of Maryland. “Nobody wants to ask patients if they are experiencing domestic violence if there is nothing they can do to help them,” says Colleen Moore, Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at GBMC. “That is why we started this program in 2011, with the goal of encouraging healthcare providers to screen for domestic violence and connect patients to resources.” 

GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program wants patients to understand that a healthcare provider is an appropriate person to speak to about domestic violence. When physicians or other healthcare providers truly understand patients’ stressors and safety risks, they are able to make better diagnoses and help them access the specific resources they need. Maryland does not have mandatory reporting laws for domestic violence, so all information is kept confidential. GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program works in conjunction with healthcare providers; once a physician or healthcare provider has identified a patient who is a victim of abuse, they involve the Domestic Violence Program personnel. From there, the program can provide crisis counseling, safety planning and connect the patient with resources like legal support and housing. The program personnel are available to advocate for patients, hospital staff and anyone in the community who is a victim of abuse.

If someone you know is being abused, Ms. Moore offers these suggestions of things you can do to help:
  • Be a good listener.
  • Remind the person that no one deserves to be abused.
  • Reassure the person that abuse is against the law and that help is available.
  • Help the person make a plan to stay safe.
  • Suggest that the person call a hotline or GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program for assistance.

In the Baltimore area, you can reach GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program at 443-849-3323 or visit for more information. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), can also help callers find local domestic violence victim support. 

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