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October 1, 2012: Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is important that we continue to pay attention to this important issue. We talk about domestic violence every October as part of DV Awareness Month – but because of its impact on our clients and our mission – safety, health and independence -- it is an issue I believe we need to talk about more than just once a year. Domestic violence is a widespread problem impacting all ages, all socioeconomic classes, communities of faith, people of different sexual orientations and all cultures.
Domestic violence has many sub-issues within it, too:
- Impact on children - chronic stress and lifetime mental and physical health issues;
- Post-separation violence - 70% of DV injuries occur after a couple has separated;
- Time lost from work by victims of intimate partner violence - nationally, this is about 8 million hours; and
- Higher rate of DV among people with developmental disabilities.
We could spend time talking in depth about each of these -- AND it’s a huge issue for our department, not just for our clients. It’s around us every day, and if we can look at the statistics, many of you have been – or know someone who has been – a victim of domestic violence. In fact, 74% of abused women who are employed report being harassed by their partners while at work. Oregon law provides substantial protections for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
What are we doing about it? I'm happy to report we have good things happening to help us in our fight against DV:
- We now have DV advocates co-located in our offices in our districts throughout Oregon. That is a huge step forward. Their purpose is to partner with us to identify, respond and reduce violence occurring among our clients. Where this approach has been taken before now, the evidence is clear that this model strengthens the work we do on behalf of survivors.
- We’ve got an amazing group of people serving on the OHA|DHS Domestic Violence Council who’ve been committed to this issue and are working to ensure that we have standard practices, policies and guidelines we can rely on for resources.
- We have our required management training on workplace effects of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. This is required within 2 years of appointment, and a refresher is required every five years. For those who have not met this requirement, I urge you to sign up and take it or take the refresher.
One of our District Managers talks about DV awareness in the same framework we use to talk about cultural competence, and I think she makes a good point. She says learning about and using our knowledge around DV and our work with survivors is a lot like a continuum. None of us have 'arrived' but instead we're somewhere along the path, constantly learning and improving our awareness. Let’s use the month of October to take a few more steps along the path of understanding and awareness of domestic violence and the impact on our clients, their families and our employees, too. Thanks so much for your commitment to service on behalf of the people we serve.
Have a great week.
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