Victims of domestic violence urged to seek help

As an obstetrics and gynecology physician who frequently sees violence against women in my patients, I feel compelled to take an active role in raising awareness of domestic and intimate partner violence.

In 2010, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that approximately 36 percent of women in Hawaii have reported physical violence, rape or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Violence between partners has been linked to multiple health problems including complications with mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health. Health consequences go well beyond the effects of physical injuries and include an increased risk of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, asthma, heart disease, stroke, smoking and unplanned pregnancy.

Partner violence is a matter we take very seriously at Kaiser Permanente, and I urge those who experience abuse to seek treatment. The following are signs that indicate someone may be a victim of domestic violence:

* Injuries in various stages of healing.

* Description of an incident that is inconsistent with the injury.

* Avoidance or delay in seeking medical attention after an injury.

* Reports of emotional abuse such as excessive criticism, insults or humiliation.

* Being stalked – whether it’s in showing up unexpectedly, sending unwanted gifts and/or incessant phone calls or text messages.

* Difficulty with mental health such as depression or suicidal behavior.

For more information on partner violence and how to seek help, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE or contact a local advocacy organization.

Dr. Alexa Sueda

physician leader, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Family Violence Prevention Program