Campuses Must Screen for Relationship Violence
Make intimate partner violence risk assessments mandatory for hospitals, schools and universities.
Despite a recent increase in domestic violence/relationship awareness, the fact remains that today three women and one man will become homicide victims of intimate partner violence in the United States. When these tragedies become stories in the news, we find ourselves asking why and how they can possibly occur. But more importantly, let’s ask ourselves “what can we do?”
Medical professionals complete risk assessments to help themselves weigh their options and decide on the safest choices for patient care. I suggest mandating an Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment, a mandatory form that professionals would complete when they are called to an intimate partner violence event, whether it be at a home, public place or college campus.
Part of the test would be concerned with characteristics of the abuser, including risk factors like past incarceration, and whether he shows signs of a social disorder, like sociopathy. The rest would focus on the victim and his or her perceived and reported vulnerabilities. Licensed first responders would be required to file this form with county services and, depending on the circumstances of an event, different interventions would be required or suggested. In some cases, victims would be moved to a shelter for personal safety training.
With 16 million college students in the United States, campus security faces its own, unique set of problems when it comes to intimate partner violence. Resident advisors and campus police must be involved when domestic violence is suspected. Though in many cases they themselves are students, they would need to be familiar with a form like this and know how to approach the topic with their peers.
Though some might argue an Intimate Partner Risk Assessment would be redundant to our current system, medical professionals agree a certain amount of redundancy is desirable when the consequences could be dire. When a patient complains of chest pain, we don’t do one test – we do several. Medical professionals use risk assessments because they are systematized and less subject to bias. Often times, it only takes one miscalculation, one ignored gut feeling, to bring about the tragedies we see and hear about every day.
Dr. James L Jones practiced emergency medicine for more than 30 years and is the author of A Murder In West Covina.
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