In Laredo, Anjelica Martinez was murdered by her husband last year. Her three young children, ages 3, 8, and 9, are left without a mother.
Pregnancy and early motherhood is a particularly dangerous time for women and their young children in an abusive relationship. Around 25% of women murdered by a male intimate partner last year were either pregnant or were mothers to young children, according to TCFV’s Honoring Texas Victims Report.
“We know that domestic violence is exacerbated during pregnancy,” said Sister Rosemary Welsh, Executive Director at Casa de Misericordia. “But a lot of people don’t recognize [domestic violence] as a public health issue.”
Doctors and patients have routine conversations about nutrition and exercise, but when was the last time your health care provider asked you about your relationship? Simple but effective screenings for domestic can help survivors get the help they need safely.
Casa de Misericordia is partnering with local health care providers this week to recognize Health Cares About Domestic Violence (HCADV) Day on October 12. HCADV Day is an opportunity for health care providers and domestic violence advocates to build meaningful connections and promote tools and techniques to support survivors.
One key takeaway? “Look them in the eye,” advises Sister Rosemary to doctors and health care workers. “There are so many touchstones in how health providers can intervene in domestic violence.”
She recounted the case of a woman with diabetes whose blood sugar continued to be high despite consistent check-ins at home and at the clinic. The promotores (community health workers) noticed that her husband was always with her and answered questions for her. “He wanted to come into the room at the clinic,” said Sister Rosemary, and when nurses turned him away, he gave his wife his phone – with a call connected so he could listen in.
The promotores kept following up with the patient, and eventually she confided her abusive relationship. “She had told her physician when she was pregnant, but they didn’t do anything. We were the first people who seemed to care. She continues to come to us, and she knows there is a lifeline out there,” explained Sister Rosemary.
Dr. Joselyn Fisher, Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine, recalled similar experiences. “I’ve seen many cases were women have been in abusive relationships for a long period of time and were never asked, and they experienced partner violence far longer than they might have.”
Baylor College of Medicine is also planning to Go Purple this October. The campus will light their fountain up purple and hang purple lights to recognize domestic violence in their community, and share awareness posters with contact information for local shelters. The school will also host a panel that provides continuing medical education credits.
Want to get involved in Health Cares about Domestic Violence Day? Here’s three easy ways:
- Share a fact about health and domestic violence
- Join TCFV’s webinar: HCADV – The Texas Health Summit and Future Developments
- Sign the Purple Postcard below to tell your legislator you support family violence programs.