Home | DVCC Updates | Medical Advocacy News | Map Trains Over 1500 in Medical Field and Presents at National Conference

Map Trains Over 1500 in Medical Field and Presents at National Conference

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

A little over two years ago DVCC staff members were just initiating serious research into developing the state’s first domestic violence Medical Advocacy Project. The overall goal was to develop and deliver a comprehensive training program for health care professionals in order to promote earlier identification of victims of domestic violence through improved screening and to encourage referral of victims to appropriate sources. Fact finding trips at the time included attending the National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence, sponsored every two years by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (now Futures Without Violence) and a visit to three domestic violence agencies in Pennsylvania with established Medical Advocacy programs. Back at home, further research and planning by DVCC advocates led to the development of specialized training programs for health care providers, and ongoing outreach brought the DVCC into medical facilities and schools within and beyond Fairfield County.

Thanks to those efforts, over the past sixteen months MAP has trained an astounding number of people in the medical profession – 1,587 to be exact. Those trainings include 850 doctors, nurses and other hospital staff at Stamford Hospital, with which DVCC has a formal partnership agreement to provide training in intimate partner violence. Other facilities where medical personnel and students have received training include Norwalk Hospital, Yale New Haven Hospital, Fairfield County Medical Association, Norwalk Community Health Center, UCONN School of Nursing, NCC School of Nursing, and Emergency Medical Services in several towns. Additional MAP trainings have been provided to special DVCC Rapid Response volunteers who respond to victims in the hospital, to DVCC staff and to certain members of the community.

As further testament to MAP’s progress, this year MAP Director Susan Delaney and MAP consultant Dr. Donna Clemmens will not only attend the Futures Without Violence National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence – they have also been asked to give a 20 minute presentation on the health initiative partnership between Clemmens’ nursing students at the University of Connecticut and residents at the DVCC SafeHouses.

“We are really, really excited by this opportunity,” Delaney said. “To have our proposal accepted for presentation at a national conference is such an honor.”

Delaney and Clemmens, who is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, last summer submitted an abstract to conference personnel entitled “A wellness initiative for victims of domestic violence”. It describes the partnership between the DVCC and the UCONN School of Nursing in addressing the unmet health needs prevalent in those impacted by intimate partner violence, especially victims residing in safe houses or shelters. The presentation will discuss how nursing students and their supervisors addressed DVCC SafeHouse residents’ specific health needs, provided preventative screening and health promotion activities and employed strategies to help residents take charge of their own health, including identifying community resources for follow up. The MAP advocates were informed last fall that their abstract had been accepted for presentation at the conference, to be held March 30 – 31 in San Francisco.

“When I did an initial search of the resources, literature and programs in this area, I found very little written about targeting the health needs of victims who have experienced intimate partner violence, especially for women in shelters,” Clemmens said. “The partnership (between DVCC and UCONN) was like the perfect marriage. It’s really a service/learning project where there is a need by the agency and SafeHouse population for health care and advice and the needs of the nursing students to better understand the scope and depth and issues related to this problem.”

To further emphasize the importance of research and education when it comes to understanding the health effects of intimate partner violence, the DVCC in November hosted a series of talks by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, who has been engaged in advocacy and policy work and has conducted ground-breaking research in the areas of domestic violence and health outcomes for over 30 years. Dr. Campbell enthralled and stunned audiences as she described the horrific toll that intimate partner violence takes on the physical and mental health of its victims.

The effects go way beyond the visible black eye or bruises often associated with domestic violence and they may last for years, even long after the abuse has stopped, according to Dr. Campbell. Research shows abuse victims to be at significant risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attacks, strokes, chronic pain, chronic irritable bowel syndrome and pregnancy-related problems. Head injuries and strangulation put victims at increased risk for strokes, memory loss, seizures, blackouts, dizziness and difficulties with concentrating. Many IPV victims are sexually abused, resulting in STD’s, HIV, cervical cancer and internal injuries. And mental health repercussions of IPV include higher incidences of depression, post traumatic stress syndrome and suicide. During her presentation, Dr. Campbell discussed ways medical staff could assist victims of domestic violence and urged doctors to develop greater awareness of the possible connection between health problems and IPV in their patients.

Finally, in addition to their ongoing trainings within Fairfield County, DVCC MAP advocates also have initiated regional meetings with sister domestic violence programs across the state with the aim of assisting them in instituting medical advocacy programs in their catchment areas. DVCC’s MAP is a model program and, through a Department of Social Services grant, will begin to provide technical assistance with training curricula, sample policies, strategies and guidelines towards the development of similar hospital-based programs throughout Connecticut. 

Medical Researcher At Yale New Haven Hospital Assists Map

Medical Researcher At Yale New Haven Hospital Assists Map


Dr. Isabel Butrymowicz stumbled onto DVCC’s Medical Advocacy Project entirely by accident while she was completing an Internal Medicine Clerkship at the NYU Medical Center and starting to look for clinical research positions back home in Connecticut. Scrolling through the Yale New Haven Hospital webpage one evening, she spotted an ad from VolunteersMatch.org, which offered a short list of volunteer opportunities, including one with MAP. 

“The brief description of the program piqued my interest,” Dr. Butrymowicz said. “I worked with victims of domestic violence during both my undergraduate and graduate studies. When I started in medical school, I remember being surprised at how little time is allocated to identifying and helping victims of domestic violence. It is the reason I decided to focus my senior year medical school thesis on family violence.”

After joining Yale New Haven Hospital as a Post-Doctoral Clinical Research Professional, Dr. Butrymowicz offered her volunteer services to DVCC. MAP Director Susan Delaney quickly recognized her value not only as a medical professional who was dedicated to research, but also as someone who clearly grasped the unique challenges faced by victims of intimate partner violence and who recognized that the medical community too often failed to respond to those challenges. Simultaneously, the doctor was impressed by MAP’s mission.

“After meeting with Sue, I realized the true magnitude of the program and its importance,” she said. “When it comes to IPV, there is a serious void in the medical education and training system. Health professionals will benefit from specialized training to help identify, advocate for and treat victims. This is a very vulnerable population with often very complicated and multi-layered cases.”

Dr. Butrymowicz’ primary contributions to MAP have utilized her skills as a medical writer, educator and researcher. She helped to develop the clinical seminars presented to the medical community and often co-presents these seminars with a MAP staff member. Currently she is developing ways to assess the quality and effectiveness of the Medical Advocacy Project in hospitals, clinics and with DVCC clients, information that is integral to MAP’s status as a model program for the state.

“We are so lucky to have Dr. Isabel Butrymowicz and Dr. Donna Clemmens (see MAP story) as advisors to the Medical Advocacy Project,” Susan Delaney said. “Their extensive research backgrounds and medical knowledge and their dedication to promoting systems change for victims of intimate partner violence make them invaluable assets to our program.”