Your home is supposed to be a safe haven. A place where you can feel secure and protected while surrounded by loved ones.
But for victims of domestic violence, the concepts of home, security and even love can get turned upside down.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence occurs when someone within a patient’s inner circle, be it a partner, ex-partner, immediate family member, relative or close friend, abuses that person either physically, emotionally, psychologically or sexually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 10 million women and men experience domestic violence. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing).1 Forms of domestic violence include child abuse, senior abuse, and all forms of abuse by a partner, including psychological abuse and stalking.
“We often see domestic violence occur with boyfriends and girlfriends,” says Janelle Randolph, a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), . “The first time they come in, the patient might have a small injury, but typically there will be a second, third and potentially more visits to the hospital where the injuries continue to multiply or get worse. Abusers often dominate their victims by controlling their money and not letting their victim have a job, friends or any social outlet.”
Randolph knows from personal experience the importance of having an advocate for survivors and their children. She has been with Adena for 16 years, successfully navigating nursing school and her Adena career where she began as an Emergency Department secretary.
Here to Help 24/7
Should you, or someone you know, be experiencing domestic violence, Adena can help. “We have 24 hour, 7 days a week crisis advocates that primarily respond to the Emergency Department, but can also respond to Adena Urgent Care, Adena Primary Care offices or anywhere within the health system if it’s a crisis situation,” says Heather Welshimer, Adena’S Advocacy Program Manager. . Adena refers to domestic violence patients as “survivors” and the Adena Advocacy Program is there to help survivors and their families find help and safety.
How We Help
Although many patients may be afraid to call out abuse for fear of further violence, Adena Survivor Advocates know how to get survivors to safety quickly and help them achieve long-term freedom from their abusive situation. Adena Survivor Advocates can help those suffering abuse get to a safe shelter and get them a “shelter pack” with needed clothing and hygiene products for themselves and any children. Adena Advocates help survivors plan next steps and engage SANE nurses, like Randolph, for any forensic examination and evidence collection that might be needed. They can connect survivors to law enforcement or legal resources who know how to help and protect victims.
Once a survivor has made the decision to exit their abusive situation, Adena provides After Care Coordinators who follow-up with the patient, helping them navigate and find resources to help them live independent lives free of violence. For 12 months and beyond, Adena Survivor Care Coordinators can help survivors:
- Find shelter
- Work with Law Enforcement
- Get protection orders
- Help protect children and keep them with the survivor parent
- Find new housing
- Increase home security
- Apply for benefits and/or find employment opportunities.
- Access legal resources
After Care Coordinators do as much as possible to ensure the survivor has the means to successfully break the chain of violence and succeed in life. Should a survivor be unsure or remain in an abusive situation, Adena Care Coordinators will follow-up periodically, providing patients easy contact information and predetermined “safe words” to support them until they are ready to exit.
Leaving seems easy to people who aren’t in a domestic violence situation, explains Welshimer, but statistics show that when a survivor decides to leave their abuser, it is the most lethal time and it takes an average of 8 attempts for a victim to successfully and safely exit. .
The Impact of Adena
Welshimer has been a dedicated advocate for over five years, working with Adena patients who have suffered from sexual assault and domestic violence. When she started with the Adena Survivor Advocate Program, many of the advocates were volunteer based. Thanks to grant funding and local support, Heather now has a team of seven healthcare professionals helping survivors navigate their difficult circumstances. In 2020, the Adena Survivor Advocate Program helped nearly 450 patients of which:
- 27% were under the age of 18
- 12% were male and 88% were female
- 38% of the adults had experienced family/domestic violence
- 18% of the adults had experienced sexual assault such as rape
- 96% of the minors served were seen for sexual violence
- 15% of the population received services and resources focused on human trafficking
Unfortunately, these startling numbers likely only reflect a portion of local area abuse cases.
What Survivors Should Know
What Heather, Janelle and the entire Adena team would like victims of domestic violence to know the most? There is help! Those suffering abuse can break the cycle and have a life of independence and safety. “We want survivors to realize that they can reach out to anyone at Adena and we can get them help,” says Heather. “Our experienced healthcare professionals know the importance of discretion and keeping the patient safe above all else.” Adena offers confidential help and support as survivors work through their plans. The Adena Advocacy Program has helped many patients which has led to many success stories. “We work with schools and communities in educating people about abuse and stopping violence and getting help,” says Heather. “We want survivors to know we understand and that they have a trusted partner in helping them escape abuse.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, you can do any of the following to get help:
- Call Adena Regional Medical Center's help line at 740-779-7263
- Visit any Adena Urgent Care or Emergency Department, or tell your Adena provider
- Visit Adena.org/advocacyprogram for more information
Heather Welshimer is the Adena Advocacy Program Manager. She has been a dedicated advocate for over five years, working with Adena patients who have suffered from sexual assault and domestic violence. Heather works with Janelle Randolph, a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), who knows from personal experience the importance of having an advocate for survivors and their children. Janelle has been with Adena for 16 years, successfully navigating nursing school and her Adena career where she began as an Emergency Department secretary.1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-hcp/Penicillin-Allergy.html