National Domestic Violence Month

Many will question why I am writing this blog.

What does it have to do with a laboratory?

Nothing! Yet, this is a topic that cannot be ignored.

Check this out: Did you know that the number of US troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. Terrible, right? During that same period 11,766 women were killed by current or ex-male partners. Yes, that is correct. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other. Un-freaking believable! 1 in 10 men in the US have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner (CDC).

October is National Domestic Violence Month and thus this topic. What is sickening is that this issue is big enough to prompt the creation of a month for Domestic Violence. In the simplest terms, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systemic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. This includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.

Although there are many reasons for, the main one is power. One individual wants power over another. Sure, there might have been, (and usually there is) stress of some sort, but abuse is about exerting power over another human being. Being abusive is a strategic decision by a partner to create power and control. Some abusers have been abused, some have observed abuse, some have anger issues, some have control issues, others have boundary issues, the list goes on and on. Regardless of the reason, there is no excuse to abuse another human being in any fashion.  

Healthcare providers are in position to offer a “safe place” for victims of abuse. It is important to remain non-judgmental and sensitive when broaching this topic with a potential abuse victim. Although all providers, under the AMA Code of Medical Ethics have an obligation to take appropriate action to assist patients of abuse, most have no idea how to do this. Sadly and thankfully, there are a lot of resources available to help in these efforts. 

Are you able to detect abuse? Are you familiar with your local resources available to abused persons? Do you know the legal requirements for reporting abuse where you practice? Do you mandate one-on-one consultations for every patient so you can privately chat with a patient that may always be accompanied by a partner?

Lots of food for thought. I wish we didn’t have to think about it, but putting our head in the sand does not make it go away.

If writing this blog inspires one provider to ask that one question or take that one step which ends up saving a victim of abuse, then the question of why it was written is answered.  

Thank you for using ILDP as your laboratory.

Lance Benedict

President/CEO Industry Lab Diagnostic Partners