What are the chances a student you precept or mentor will experience domestic violence? According to an August 29, 2019 presentation to South Jordan faculty by Abbey Summers and Tiffany Perry from the prevention and education arm of South Valley Services (SVS), 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.
Domestic violence is purposeful or deliberate behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over another person in any relationship. These behaviors may include, among others, physical violence, threats, intimidation, destruction of personal property, mind games, humiliation, and isolation.
It can be very challenging for someone to leave an abusive relationship due to factors both psychological (fear of the unknown, commitment to the relationship) and practical (lack of access to support services, language barriers). Complicating things further, a survivor’s departure often triggers an escalation of violence by the perpetrator, possibly due to a sense of lost control over the relationship.
SVS encourages a “Recognize, Respond, Refer” approach to cases of domestic violence faculty may encounter. First, recognize signs of domestic violence. There may be physical manifestations or verbal indicators that something is wrong. Does the person seem to feel powerless or uncomfortable in their relationship? A question often used to initiate disclosure is “Do you feel safe at home?”
Second, respond. Appropriate responses to survivors of domestic violence include listening to what the person has to say, believing what they are saying, rather than responding with distrust or skepticism, and providing validation, which means simply acknowledging that the thoughts and feelings they express are understandable. The presenters cautioned, however, against demonizing the perpetrator, which can undermine your relationship with the survivor and result in more harm than good.
Third, refer. Share information about resources that are available and offer to help make the initial contact. In Utah, SVS (801-255-1095, www.svsutah.org) maintains 15 sanctuary houses for those fleeing domestic violence, which include childcare and no-cost, onsite counseling. They also operate community resource centers in locations such as libraries and city halls. Other resources include the Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine (1-800-897-LINK (5465)), the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE (7233)), and www.loveisrespect.org.
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Tyler Rose, PhD
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy