From HRSA: How Health Centers Can Address Intimate Partner Violence & Human Trafficking
Content borrowed from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Special Edition Digest from October 10, 2018:
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, this special edition focuses on intimate partner violence (IPV) and human trafficking (HT). Both IPV and HT are forms of trauma, which can have long-term impacts on both physical and mental health. Following are vetted resources and promising practices to help you provide the necessary care and services for victims of IPV and HT.
IPV, also referred to as domestic violence, is widespread, affecting one in four women and one in seven men. IPV disproportionately affects populations served by health centers, including pregnant women, adolescents, racial/ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, and individuals with substance use disorders.
HT is a public health issue that impacts individuals, families, and communities. In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received over 26,000 calls with over 8,500 cases reported. Traffickers disproportionately target at-risk populations, including individuals who have experienced or have been exposed to other forms of violence and individuals disconnected from stable support networks, like runaways and homeless youth. Not only does HT splinter families, it can have severe effects on the physical and mental health of its victims.
How health centers can address these issues
- Employ a trauma-informed care model, which assumes patients have experienced trauma. This model includes organizational change that promotes resilience in patients and staff, engages individuals in care, prevents re-traumatization, and incorporates knowledge about trauma in policies, procedures, practices, and settings.
- Partner with local domestic violence advocacy programs to support bidirectional supportive referrals for both IPV and HT.
- Offer universal education using Safety Cards to open the conversation and follow with screening and counseling.
- Share Safety Cards with patients to take home, if it is safe to do so.
- Offer a safe, confidential environment: See each patient alone for a portion of every visit.
- Recognize HT warning signs and red flags.
- Consider IPV and HT in the differential diagnosis.
- Visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline to speak with advocates and view a local referral directory.
- Provide access to a private phone or meeting location within your health center for patients to connect with a local domestic violence advocate or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for safety planning.