Thursday, April 15, 2010

Emory University Models Campus Prevention

Emory University provides a great example of how dating and domestic violence can be addressed on colleges campuses, both with students and within education so that students leave with a model for addressing violence in their careers. A WRC board member, Dr. Sheryl Heron, co-chairs Emory's Intimate Partner Violence Working Group.

The IPV working group partners with the Center for Women, the Sexual Assault Prevention Office, the Emory Counseling Center, Pastoral Counseling Service and the Emory Police Department, and its members draw from these organizations and more.

“Our goal is to create a collaborative group so that we can support one another on some of the efforts,” [Paula Gomes, co-chair of Emory’s IPV working group] said. She added that the work aims to support each other while responding to a number of existing concerns within Emory students staff and members of the faculty.

An Emory initiative to combat intimate partner violence started by the IPV working group includes offering a protocol for health care professionals to follow up with patients who are suspected to be victims of intimate partner violence cases.

“In [the VCP report], they found that victims went to hospital emergency rooms, and they went to their friends and colleagues and tried to get help, but it wasn’t good enough because they were murdered,” Heron said.

She added that the group wanted to revive a protocol that wold be more updated in the language and content of definitions, which includes what they look for and how to ask questions and make referrals.

Heron said that among other indicators of IPV, chronic abdominal pain, a history of an attempted suicide or chronic headaches points towards an individual’s possibility of having IPV.

“It’s beyond just fixing the medical problem, but asking why,” Heron said. She said that there is still a long way to go, and added that the medical protocol provides yet another tool that health care professionals can access.

This protocol includes requiring health care professionals to routinely check patients for domestic abuse in an effort to decrease the amount of repeat offenses of intimate partner violence.

“The medical protocol goes hand in hand with the fatality reports because the fatality report clearly states that victims have gone to health care professionals prior to their death,” Heron said.

Two years ago, the IPV working group conducted a report on intimate partner violence and presented the findings to University President James W. Wagner.

However, many of their recommendations, such as the creation of a website for victims have not materialized since the report came during the nation’s economic downturn.

“The recommendations included the creation of a website and other resources and a central place where people can respond to intimate partner violence,” Heron said.

She added that the financing issues have not deterred the group from distributing the report or from working with the Center for Women to create a website which would ensure confidentiality and safety for those in need of the services.

Heron said that according to a survey given to the University, many are unaware of a clear definition for intimate partner violence.

“We have to continue educating our campus and our university about what partner violence is about and what it includes,” Heron said.

Despite Georgia’s high ranking this year, Gomes stressed that there are many avenues throughout campus for Emory students, staff and faculty to reach out to when experiencing IPV.

“We do see [IPV] as an issue an Emory, and I know there is a growing issue among students of dating violence and stalking,” Gomes said. “There are resources available for everyone on campus.”
Info comes courtesy of the Emory Wheel.

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