Effort to End Violence 'Will Bear Fruit'

Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, Dir., Office of Women's Health, applauded HRSA staff on Oct. 10 for their help in formulating the agency's Intimate Partner Violence Strategy -- the first of its kind at HHS. The nearly three-year project has involved all 16 of the agency's bureaus and offices. ​
Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, Director, Office of Women's Health, applauded HRSA staff for their help in formulating the agency's Intimate Partner Violence Strategy -- the first of its kind at HHS. The nearly three-year project has involved all 16 of the agency's bureaus and offices.

 

"I'm really proud to be part of an agency that is taking this on ... Know that you are not doing this alone. (What) you are trying to accomplish today will bear fruit. It will help countless numbers of women and men, not only in the United States but across the world."

Tom Engels, Acting HRSA Administrator

 

Decades later, Tom Engels still remembers the little boy from Madison, Wisconsin -- still thinks about him often. Engels was a member of the volunteer fire department back then, a fledgling first-responder on his first call. It was 2:30 in the morning, a few days before Christmas. He arrived to find a family in upheaval, and the swirling roof lights of police and paramedic squads...

"I looked over and saw, sitting by a Christmas tree, a little four-year-old boy playing with his toys," Engels recalled, visibly moved by the memory. "There was a lot going on in that house at the time.  I just went over, sat down with him, and we played with his truck and some blocks. I've thought about him so many times since then, and wondered whatever happened to that little boy, where is he today and how is he?'... That's the last time I ever saw him."

 

Tom Engels' encounter with domestic violence has stuck with him for more than three decades; OWH Senior Advisor Christina Lachance.
Tom Engels' encounter with domestic violence has stuck with him for more than three decades; Office of Women's Health Senior Advisor Christina Lachance.

 

Engels spontaneously shared his story at an Oct. 10 meeting of HRSA's Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence Sustainability symposium led by the Office of Women's Health (OWH). He lauded bureau and office "champions" for their collective efforts to address the wrenching issue of domestic violence. The 2017-2018 Progress Report (PDF - 3.2 MB) states just how much work has been acomplished.  

"That's one of the things I've really noticed about HRSA," Engels said of his time with the agency since his arrival a year ago, after a long career in health and public safety administration in his home state. "We take on the big issues here."

An estimated 42 million adults -- including 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men -- are affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, the CDC has reported. The economic toll of the violence HRSA Exit Disclaimer is likewise enormous: an estimated $3 trillion over the course of victims' lifetimes, said Sabrina Matoff-Stepp of OWH, in lost productivity, housing transience, behavioral health issues and more. Partner violence has been linked to a range of chronic health conditions, substance use disorders and suicide. Studies also have shown an association between pregnancy-related homicides and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

 

Among representatives attending the Oct. 10 meeting were (from left) Deitra Scott (BHW); Jane Segebrecht (OWH); Dr. Judy Steinberg and Amanda Ford of BPHC; Robyn Williams and CDR Heather Dimeris (FORHP) and CDR Nancy Mautone-Smith, Dpty. Dir., OWH.
Among representatives attending the meeting were (from left) Deitra Scott (Bureau of Health Workforce); Jane Segebrecht (Office of Women's Health); Dr. Judy Steinberg and Amanda Ford from the Bureau of Primary Health Care; Robyn Williams and CDR Heather Dimeris (Federal Office of Rural Health Policy) and CDR Nancy Mautone-Smith, Deputy Director, Office of Women's Health.

 

Moreover, violence in relationships is a global issue. HRSA's strategy has been shared with multiple federal agencies and government officials worldwide, most recently with a U.S. State Department delegation from Egypt.

HRSA formally launched the strategy to reduce Intimate Partner Violence nearly three years ago. Notwithstanding progress since then, much remains to be done, Matoff-Stepp said.

"For today's Summit and for the final year of the Strategy's implementation," she urged, "join us in OWH as public health innovators and change-makers as we work together to prevent and respond to IPV."

 

In all, 16 HRSA bureaus and offices contributed to the agency's IPV Strategy.
In all, 16 HRSA bureaus and offices contributed to the agency's IPV Strategy.

 

For those who are in immediate need of confidential help or want to learn more, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline HRSA Exit Disclaimer, or call 1-800-799-7233.

Date Last Reviewed:  November 2019