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Domestic Violence Politics - Healthcare and Clergy Resistance to Screen For Domestic Abuse


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We often hear people say that domestic violence is an ugly topic. . . a topic that most people don't wish to talk about, nor hear about. Yet when it's happening to your daughter or your son, or yourself, that's a horse of a different color.

More disturbing is the fact that those assigned the “job" to be gatekeepers for domestic violence, also choose not to talk about it. Why?

My feeling is that domestic abuse oozes with social political drama and also carries with it a deadly financial motive. Let's look closer through the eyes of your priest or your doctor. When these folks see domestic abuse, that is intimate partner violence- spousal abuse-what happens?

Uneasiness happens and money matters. Let's face it, who in an abusive relationship is usually controlling the family purse and paying the church's building fund or paying the medical bills?

I can see the answer on your face. Well of course, it's obvious. So the question becomes how do we get those ostensibly responsible for screening and/or reporting domestic abuse to do so?

Under the circumstances, I'm not sure this is possible. My hunch is that a rare group of clergy and healthcare providers will be leaders in this business of domestic abuse screening, assessment and appropriate referral. And they will remain in the minority until healthcare is socialized and church is truly free.

I know this sounds a bit callused for someone managing a nonprofit whose mission encompasses helping healthcare providers carry out the “required" roles of domestic abuse screening. My intention is to confront the real issues that are the true barriers to healthcare and clergy's resistance to manage domestic abuse as society expects.

On the upside, I will add that those not directly tied to the financial consequences of domestic abuse ‘coming out of the closet" will be in the best position to make a difference. It is for this reason, I believe we must look to hospital nursing staff, over private practice healthcare and clergy.

For more information about healthcare and domestic abuse education, visit Partners in Prevention at . Dr. Jeanne King is founding director of Partners in Prevention, dedicated to helping domestic abuse survivors and their advocates. © 2008 Jeanne King, Ph. D.


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