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Domestic violence is a growing medical concern

Reports show that one in four women will be the victim of some type of physical violence caused by a partner. Victims sustain injuries severe enough to warrant medical attention, but rarely do they volunteer the reason behind their injuries. Patients often miss out on the help they may need because of the lack of communication on both sides. In California, health providers and other agencies are working together to identify victims of domestic violence and provide support systems for them.

Experts say that in the past four years, The East Los Angeles Women's Center has trained thousands of medical personnel and social workers to help domestic violence victims. Medical staff screen patients for signs of abuse, and victim advocates are in-house to provide education and counseling. Workers also respond to calls from emergency rooms, inpatient hospitals and outpatient facilities to help people in crisis.

Victims of physical abuse often have high health costs and suffer from long-term health issues. Illnesses such as depression, headaches, chronic pain and diabetes are common among victims. One L.A. County hospital served 600 domestic violence victims last year, and supporter's stress that medical facilities are ideal settings to respond to those being abused.

Treating domestic violence victims can be very challenging. Providers who are comfortable screening patients for abuse could reduce the number of mental and physical health problems. In California, victims of abuse may consult with an attorney to answer questions and discuss options. A lawyer who is well versed in physical abuse cases can provide guidance and support during this turbulent time.

Source: californiahealthline.org, "Treating Domestic Violence As A Medical Problem", Anna Gorman, Jan. 29, 2018

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