The Wichita Eagle newspaper ran recent stories regarding horrific domestic abuse. As a family doctor, my focus is to keep my patients well, both emotionally and physically. I routinely screen (meaning I ask everyone) at periodic visits like annual exams, prenatal or postpartum visits about abuse. I also look for signs or symptoms of abuse.
Abuse is pervasive and comes in many forms– all harmful.
- Sexual abuse (rape or forced sexual activity)
- Emotional/verbal abuse (threats, repeated name-calling, or
- Controlling behavior (limited ability to move about or
access to money)
- Physical abuse (kicking, punching, or hitting).
Partner violence is a crime. During a lifetime, it is a common crime: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men. It can occur among any type of couple—dating, married, heterosexual or same-sex. People of any age, income or education level, or ethnicity can be in an abusive relationship.
What can you do? Tell someone you trust: clergy, friend, physician.
Get organized: have your bank records, birth certificates, social security cards in a place that you can take if you leave in a hurry. These documents give you access to money and social services. Make a plan to go to a safe house, shelter or friend’s house.
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911. A restraining order may help the abuser stay away from you.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has more information 1-800-799-SAFE or http://www.thehotline.org/get-help-in-your-area/