Domestic Violence Awareness

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

OCTOBER 12, 2017

I love the month of October, especially in New England. The leaves are beautiful, the air crisp, but hasn’t yet turned the bitter biting cold of winter, and Halloween, one of my favorite holidays is in October. But October is significant for another very important reason. It’s Domestic Violence Awareness month.

You may be wondering, why is this a topic on a baby blog? The fact is that it’s an incredibly relevant topic for a baby blog. While we like to believe that couples become pregnant and begin parenting when their relationships are in a very good place, that’s not a universal truth by any means.

Statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control highlight that Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects approximately 1.5 million women each year, including 324,000 women who are pregnant, and it is believed that these numbers are underestimated based on underreporting. The CDC goes on to suggest that IPV may be more common than conditions for which pregnant women may be routinely screened.

Intimate Partner Violence has no barriers in terms of race, education, age, religion or socioeconomic status and occurs between two people in a relationship including current/former spouses and dating partners. IPV exists along a continuum from a single episode of violence to ongoing battering.

IPV includes four types of behavior:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Stalking
  • Psychological aggression

The impact on children is significant with estimates that each year more than three million children are witness to violence in their homes, and as a result are more likely to experience physical and emotional problems unless they receive support. Without intervention, girls who grow up witnessing violence are more vulnerable to interpersonal violence during adolescence and adulthood, and boys have an increased risk of becoming abusive to their partners, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence.

In 1997, BIDMC created the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery under the Department of Social Work in order to address all forms of violence ranging from interpersonal to community violence. Social workers and advocates with expertise in this area provide a range of services that are private, confidential, free of charge, and through the use of interpreters offered in multiple languages. Services include safety planning, individual counseling support and advocacy. For more information, please call 617-667-8141.