What Chrysalis is Doing to Prevent Girls and Women from Experiencing Domestic Violence

What Chrysalis is Doing to Prevent Girls and Women from Experiencing Domestic Violence

As you know, Chrysalis believes that personal safety is one of the most critical basic needs of women, and that every woman and girl deserves to feel safe in her home and in her community. The impact of violence is consistently clear and much of our focus in in prevention.  

Some measures of the effect of violence may not be as obvious; for example, hospital admissions, fatal accidents, and suicides as a result of assault or violence may not be as widely recognized as police reports or calls to a hotline are. In fact, emergency rooms are often the first point of care for a victim of violence. It is documented that one-third of emergency room visits by women are due to domestic violence, yet an estimated 34% of women injured by an intimate partner never seeks medical care.

Women are killed by intimate partners more often than by any other type of perpetrator (1 in 3 female homicide victims is killed by her current or former partner), and the majority of these victims had been seen in the emergency room in the year prior to their murder.

Training for emergency department staff includes danger assessment tools recognizing:

  • multiple visits for injury
  • multiple injuries in various stages of healing
  • patterned injuries such as slap marks or defensive injuries
  • injuries inconsistent with history provided
  • visit attended by overbearing significant other or partner

Patients screening positive are further evaluated for risk of homicide. Attempted strangulation, pregnancy, and estrangement from the abuser are high indicators of potential homicide. Red flags for a perpetrator include drug or alcohol abuse, access to or presence of firearms during previous incidents, and unemployment.

Factors associated with a higher risk of intimate partner homicide have been provided by the American Journal of Public Health (right).

For emergency room staff, simply treating the acute symptoms has no effect on future occurrences of domestic violence. Immediately contacting a social worker or crisis counselor is the most important step a clinician can take to assure the safety of a suspected victim. Several Chrysalis grantee partners provide this service. Children and Families of Iowa and Crisis Intervention and Advocacy Services have highly qualified and trained advocates who are available 24/7 for victim assistance.

With the intent to prevent victimization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified “teaching skills” in school-age youth education as a critical component of sexual violence prevention. Statistics bear out the critical importance:

  • 1.5 million high school students annually report experiencing physical violence perpetrated by a dating partner
  • 1 in 9 high school-age females (1 in 36 males) report being the victim of sexual violence during the past year
  • In 7% of adolescent homicides, the perpetrator is an intimate partner
  • 3 of 4 girls (2 of 3 boys) report at least one experience of emotional or verbal abuse by a dating partner in high school

In partnership with MercyOne, Chrysalis developed GirlPower, our high school peer mentoring program. Under the leadership of Brooke Findley (and supported by Carrie McGrean), mentors are trained in methods to work with younger Chrysalis After-School program participants to know the signs of, and avoid the potential for, dangerous or violent relationships. Girls learn to advocate for themselves, become resilient and self-confident, and to reach out for assistance when they need it.

We’re proud that GirlPower has become a model for girls’ mentoring and leadership in our community. Thank you for your support to this work.