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Hospitalized Victims of Domestic Violence

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Her emotional and psychological well-being was also at stake. The social worker knew about the DVCC and made the referral.

Even before DVCC formally established the MAP Team, whereby a DVCC counselor advocate is on call 24/7 to respond to victims in hospital and police settings, we were responding to hospitalized victims of domestic violence. One example is Mary*, who, in January, was rushed to the Norwalk Hospital emergency room with a life-threatening stab wound in her neck. Her husband was arrested and charged with attempted murder several hours later.

After three weeks in intensive care, Mary survived the assault, but had a long and difficult recuperation ahead of her. An alert social worker in the hospital’s rehab unit realized that she would need more than just physical rehabilitation. Her emotional and psychological well-being was also at stake. The social worker knew about the DVCC and made the referral.

DVCC MAP staff visited Mary in the hospital and assisted her throughout her nearly two month stay in rehab. They helped Mary and her mother (who was present during the attack on her daughter) deal with the trauma of the assault as well as with the more practical aspects of moving forward. Additionally they established that Mary was eligible for victim compensation through the state and gave her information on how to apply for it; put her in touch with the DVCC Housing Advocate to start looking for a new home, as she didn’t want to return  to the apartment where she had been attacked; brought in the DVCC legal staff to discuss Mary’s desire to restart the divorce proceedings she had postponed a couple of years earlier; and searched around for ways to help her rent or purchase the medical equipment she would need at home for pain management and continued care and rehabilitation. Ultimately, because they had come to like and respect Mary so much, the social worker and nurses in the Norwalk Hospital rehab unit chipped in to buy some of the items she needed for home care.

Mary is just one example of how DVCC’s comprehensive services can help people who present as victims of domestic violence in a medical setting, whether it be a doctor’s office, a clinic, the ER, the hospital or in rehab. While her injuries were extreme and the domestic violence was obvious, MAP’s goal is to provide the Fairfield County medical community with the information, education and training needed to identify and refer patients with far less visible symptoms or injuries, as well as to ensure that all victims are offered the broad range of services available through DVCC.

Medical professionals and insurance companies prescribe prevention and early intervention as the best medicine for good health. Advocates and educators who work with victims of domestic violence agree. Early intervention for a black eye or broken arm may well preclude a future stabbing or strangulation. Determining that the root cause of stress is an abusive partner may prevent a future heart attack or stroke. Consulting with the professionals who are best equipped to help victims of domestic abuse can go a long way toward ensuring a healthier life for countless victims who slip through the cracks and go unnoticed every day.

 *Names have been changed for safety.