Sheryl Heron, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and associate residency program director with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, is working to make more people aware of the devastating consequences of domestic violence, specifically intimate partner violence.
To bring awareness to the issue on the fifth annual "Health Cares about Domestic Violence Day," Dr. Heron and her colleague, Debra Houry, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine, are the featured speakers at an Emory School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine and Center for Injury Control-sponsored lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The lecture will encourage medical professionals to discuss the health care response to domestic violence, with the focus on intimate partner violence. It will be held in Grady's Steiner Auditorium at 9 a.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimizations occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older, resulting in nearly two million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths. In 2001, the CDC reported that intimate partner violence accounted for 20 percent of all nonfatal violent crime experienced by women.
Dr. Heron says it is especially important for more health care professionals to understand the dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence, which would inform an appropriate response when victims of partner violence enter the health care system.
"These awareness activities are simply a way for the health care community to assess and manage our patients and to help keep women safe," says Dr. Heron, who practices at Grady and Emory Crawford Long hospitals and devotes much of her medical research to domestic violence. "Our ultimate goal is to save lives and families. We want to elevate consciousness and public awareness on the effects that partner violence has on women, children, and families. We acknowledge that partner violence also involves female against male but the literature recognizes the vast number of women who are victimized by their male partners."
Other activities that will raise awareness throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, include a candlelight vigil sponsored by the Partnership Against Domestic Violence on Oct. 6, and a candlelight vigil held at the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence in downtown Decatur on Oct. 20.
Governor Sonny Perdue has also been asked by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence to sign a state proclamation declaring the importance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Dr. Heron says it is particularly important for the entire community to be concerned about domestic violence, since all members of the community are affected.
"Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury for women," says Dr. Heron, who also serves on the board of the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. "It affects all persons involved, including children. But, it is a preventable problem. If we bring awareness to the issue, we can appropriately respond to it. Everyone is entitled to live in a safe and violence-free home."
Health Cares about Domestic Violence Day is sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund. The 24-hour national hotline number for domestic violence is 1-800 799-SAFE. Georgia's statewide hotline number is 404-33-HAVEN.