Looking At Domestic Violence In A New Way
Survivors of domestic violence (DV) come from all backgrounds, religions, and races. They come from wealthy families and from those that are economically disadvantaged. The majority are female, but males are among the battered, as well. Survivors may be straight or LGBTQ+. Some abuse since they were small children, and consistently chose relationships that continued with the abuse, often escalating over time. As a society, we have failed to end domestic violence, or to even ebb the flow. Perhaps it’s worth looking at the issue through new eyes.
Case in Point
Keisha Walcott experienced sexual trauma and abuse from her early years onward. As an adult, she is not surprised at the path her life has taken. She acknowledges that she made one bad decision after another, motivated by a sense that she deserved nothing better. Over the course of years, Walcott was hospitalized many times, but she was rarely questioned by the medical community about the possibility of domestic violence, and there was certainly never a comprehensive attempt to address intimate partner violence in her life. Finally, at 44 years old, Walcott got the courage to address her situation herself, and got out of a dangerously violent marriage.
Advocates for survivors are looking for a new way to address domestic violence. Job one is establishing routine screenings for every patient that enters a doctor’s office, including having conversations about relationships at home. The most important times for these discussions to occur is during pre- and post-natal visits because abuse often escalates in the days and weeks close to childbirth. From conversations in doctor’s offices, there must be greater collaboration with organizations that deal with domestic violence regularly. They have the expertise necessary to address real-life issues related to violence in the home and can offer options outside of a brochure or a 911 call. These steps are the beginning of an approach that is health-based, with medical professionals handing off troubling cases to partners in the social services arena. Federally, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is working to strengthen programs to prevent and address domestic violence through services directed toward survivors and their families. It’s an acknowledgement that domestic violence influences physical and mental health, in addition to economics and social factors. Truly, the impacts of domestic violence are extensive. One expert, in fact, likens it to an infection that can lead to acute harms (broken arms and black eyes), as well as chronic harms (economic destabilization, low self-worth). The infection can spread, through generations, or with multiple victims in one setting.
At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our dedicated Miami domestic violence attorneys recognize the far-reaching tentacles of domestic violence, and we can help. To discuss options and resources, contact our Miami office today.