Friday, November 11, 2011

Understanding domestic violence

UNSUNG HEROES: From left, Cooper; Maria Lapop, of the Revere Adolescent Health Center; Weinreb; Emily Wilcox, NP, Linda Jeffrey and Laureen Pagliaro, also of the Revere Adolescent Health Center; and Meara

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will be abused at home in her lifetime. Throughout October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the MGH Domestic Violence Working Group – a part of the MGH HAVEN (Hospitals Helping Abuse and Violence End Now) program – hosted a series of events to call attention to this complex problem.

“Although domestic violence primarily affects women, they are not the only victims,” says Liz Speakman, LICSW, director of HAVEN. “Men also can be abused, and the children who often witness such violence are negatively affected too.”

Activities included information tables, panel discussions and grand rounds. Unsung Hero Awards were presented by Speakman Oct. 27 to MGHers who have gone above and beyond to help survivors of domestic violence. Recipients are staff of the MGH Revere Adolescent Health Center/School Based Health Center, for incorporating teen dating violence education and screening into the treatment of all their patients; Jeff Cooper, PhD, executive director of the Center for Medical Simulation, for his exemplary work as a member of MGH Men Against Abuse; and Arlene Meara, RN, a staff nurse in the Operating Room, for founding the Shannon Lee Meara Foundation in memory of her daughter – tragically killed by her boyfriend in 2008 – in order to provide teen dating violence awareness and education to high school students.

After the award presentations, guest speaker Maxine Weinreb, EdD, assistant director of the Child Witness to Violence Program at Boston Medical Center, gave a lecture, “Identifying and Responding to Children Exposed to Violence.” Weinreb emphasized key lessons learned by staff in the program, including that there is no age at which a child is immune to the effects of domestic violence.

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