Mobilizing Against Domestic Violence

October 5, 2017

HRSA Administrator Dr. George Sigounas confers with Office of Women's Health Senior Advisor Christina Lachance at the Sept. 13 rollout of the agency's new plan to address Intimate Partner Violence

HRSA Administrator Dr. George Sigounas confers with Office of Women's Health Senior Advisor Christina Lachance
at the Sept. 13 rollout of the agency's new plan to address Intimate Partner Violence.
The three-year-long project will involve multiple HRSA programs, bureaus and offices.

Approximately one in every four women in the U.S. — and one in seven men — experiences "intimate partner violence," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Included are physical and sexual violence, stalking, and verbal and mental abuse.

"This violence is a serious yet preventable public health issue in the United States," said Dr. Sigounas. "It affects millions of people and families and can have serious physical and psychological health consequences."

On Sept. 13, the Office of Women's Health released The HRSA Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence (2017-2020) (PDF - 391kb)  billed as a "practical and actionable" guide  at HRSA headquarters attended by senior leaders from across the agency.

The new strategy is the product of a yearlong project that involved 14 bureaus and offices to eventually build domestic violence prevention into current programs agency wide, said Office of Women's Health (OWH) Director Sabrina Matoff-Stepp.

It is the first effort of its kind in the department, Dr. Sigounas added.

The strategy includes a step-by-step toolkit tailored for HRSA grantees and other providers by the nonprofit Futures Without Violence as part of a previous project funded by HHS, HRSA and the Administration for Children and Families.

With four key priorities and 27 recommendations, the project aims to:

  • Train the clinical and public health workforce to educate patients on the health consequences of domestic violence and be prepared to intervene with referrals and advice to victims;
  • Develop partnerships to raise awareness within HRSA and the department;
  • Increase access to health care services for affected patients by working with grantees and other stakeholders; and
  • Fill gaps in knowledge about the risks, health effects and most effective interventions.

Juliette Jenkins of HRSA's Office of Global Health, for example, proposed that the Department of State include the subject as a talking point for overseas clinicians who regularly tour HRSA through the International Visitors Leadership Program.

Molly Wirick of HRSA's Office of Federal Assistance Management said her office will include partner violence as a concern in its Notices of Funding Opportunity.

Among other bureau and office commitments: improve screening rates for Intimate Partner Violence and help OWH develop and broadcast a web site of tools, trainings and clinical best practices to grantees.

Deputy Administrator Diana Espinosa and HAB Associate Administrator Dr. Laura Cheever.
Deputy Administrator Diana Espinosa and HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) Associate Administrator Dr. Laura Cheever.

An early participant in the project, HAB's Dr. Laura Cheever encouraged partners to demonstrate results.

"This cross-HRSA approach is one we'll be able to rely on for other things," echoed Deputy Administrator Diana Espinosa. "We've collaborated in the past, but I think this project was much more methodical in making sure that everyone had the opportunity to participate … As Dr. Cheever said, our next step will be explaining how we know we're successful, and what are the metrics that show this is working."

Need help? Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline : 1-800-799-7233.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Date Last Reviewed:  October 2017