Amber Cadick, PhD, HSPP
A 24-year-old male presents to your office with complaints of fatigue and pain. When you go to listen to his heart you notice some red marks on his chest. When inquiring about this he breaks down crying and unbuttons his shirt to reveal claw marks across his torso. He quietly confesses through sobs that his girlfriend has been physically abusing him for some time, and he doesn’t know how to exit the relationship.
During didactics you notice that one of your star residents is sleeping. She has moved her typical seat with her peers to alone on the side of the room. The next 3 weeks you notice her dozing often during the lectures. What should you attribute this to—laziness, fatigue, apathy? Other faculty have noticed, and some are thinking about talking to her concerning professionalism. Thinking back, you realize that she has been lingering by your office but not saying much. One day she comes into your office, closes the door, and begins to cry. She shares that she hasn’t been able to sleep at night due to a fear for her safety. She thought this change in her partner’s behavior would be temporary, but now she doesn’t know how to stop it. She feels trapped, isolated, and lonely. She notes it is hard to perform her job as a resident with this stress at home.
Posted in Group on Violence Education and Prevention
Tagged awareness, domestic violence, education, Family Medicine, harm, intimate partner violence, IPV, medicine, partner, screening, treatment, Violence
Amanda Zavodnick, MSW, LCSW
As health care providers, we empathize with the terror and pain victims of intimate partner violence encounter. We must also empathize with the abiding love they have for their partners.
The question of why a partner stays in an abusive relationship is almost always accompanied by a myriad of accusatory allegations. All too often we hear that victims who stay in violent relationships are “crazy,” or that they are somehow responsible, or worse even, that they provoke and revel in the abuse. We must not surrender to these myths. If we truly wish to understand why these individuals stay in abusive relationships, we must recognize that this question never has a single answer; rather there are a constellation of reasons why individuals stay in violent relationships.
Jennifer Ayres, PhD
As a trauma psychologist, I find that my greatest challenge in working with survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is contending with my automatic bias that the “happily ever after” includes my patient leaving his or her perpetrator. When my bias arises, I reflect on three truths I learned from my undergraduate employment at a battered women’s shelter.
- Most people go back.
- If he or she goes back, and you made it clear that you thought it wasn’t a good decision, the patient can’t return to you the next time.
- It will happen again.
And there are a couple truths I’ve learned since I worked at the shelter.
- Basic decisions become complicated when you consider all the repercussions.
- Leaving might not be the best decision.
- If he or she does leave, the resources often aren’t available, and there is no referral for “make someone feel safe and free.”
These last three are challenging because I am much more comfortable with the patient who decides to flee the abusive situation or engage in the legal fight.