Health Centers Care About Domestic Violence

AUTHORS: Yuriko de la Cruz (NACHC) and Anna Marjavi (Director, Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation, Futures Without Violence)

October 2, 2023

“Never assume that domestic violence is not affecting someone in your workplace. Victims of domestic violence often suffer in secret, in part because they have been conditioned to believe they deserve the abuse, and because of the fear that their co-workers will think less of them. I know this because I suffered in secret for years before a very intuitive and caring person reached out to me and helped me find the path to strength, self-respect, and healing.”

– Sue Veer, CEO of Carolina Health Centers, Inc., and Secretary, NACHC Executive Committee, Board of Directors

Did you know that domestic violence (DV) affects both patients and the health center workforce?

DV is not just a patient care issue. From front desk registration, patient navigators, finance staff, clinical providers, to the C-suite, statistics indicate that every health center has at least one employee who has been impacted by DV. Nationwide, 1 in 2 women[1]; 2 in 5 men; and 1 in 3 transgender[2] individuals have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) within their lifetime. Not only can the workforce be directly harmed by IPV and DV in their personal lives, they can also suffer from vicarious and secondary trauma from caring for patients who have been abused and exploited, which can further exacerbate personal experiences of violence. Given the prevalence of DV across our country, HRSA has recently completed an agency-wide effort to outline their individual and collective efforts to support HRSA-funded programs with addressing DV. Learn more about HRSA’s Strategy on IPV and how they will support efforts to address the safety and health of individuals experiencing DV at health centers.

October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with October 11 marking the 24th annual Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day.  Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day, observed nationally every year on the second Wednesday of October, sponsored by Futures Without Violence (FUTURES). This awareness day is designed to engage healthcare and advocacy communities by providing education on the critical importance of universal awareness to promote healthy relationships, address the health repercussions of abuse, and facilitate warm referrals to domestic violence advocates.

NACHC and Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation at FUTURES are actively promoting resources geared toward equipping health centers with the necessary tools for preventing and intervening in domestic violence cases, both for patients and staff. This initiative is an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to colleagues and patients alike, underscoring our dedication to their well-being.

To demonstrate your Health Center’s dedication to addressing domestic violence not only during October but throughout the year, we’ve compiled a useful toolkit of initiatives that can help raise awareness about DV within your community. The upcoming Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day webinar, scheduled for October 11, 2023  at 1pm ET (local times listed on the registration page) will focus on the topic of “Fostering Collaborative Partnerships to Aid Survivors.” The  webinar will feature a panel of experts from DV programs, state coalitions, and national resource centers that will share how health care providers and DV programs can leverage partnerships and policy to increase access to care to survivors. Register today!

To provide health centers with practical tools and policies to support staff who may have firsthand or indirect encounters with domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and trauma, Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation is organizing a webinar titled “Fostering Resilient Workforces: Workplace Approaches to Addressing the Effects of Trauma and Domestic Violence.” This webinar is scheduled for October 18, 2023, at 2pm ET (local times listed on the registration page). It aims to equip health centers with adaptable and trauma-informed strategies that can be integrated into their current supervisory and organizational practices.  Register today!

As Dr. Kimberly Chang, Family Physician at Asian Health Services and Faculty with Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation (FUTURES) states, “Let us measure success by how well we decrease isolation, increase safety, and improve health outcomes for people affected by DV and exploitation. Health equity means increasing access to systems of care and protection and decreasing barriers to resources and services.”

Let’s do what we can to ensure our patients and colleagues experience safety, community, and wellness, because Health Centers Care about Domestic Violence!

This post was also shared on NACHC and PRAPARE‘s blog 


[1] The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | 2016/2017 Report on Intimate Partner Violence.

[2] Sarah M. Peitzmeier et al. “Intimate Partner Violence in Transgender Populations: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence and Correlates”, American Journal of Public Health 110, no. 9 (September 1, 2020): pp. e1-e14.