Nancy Olson, Assistant Director at the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The Affordable Care Act offers numerous provisions that promise to significantly help to improve health outcomes for women. One of those is the provision that women be screened for domestic violence (sometimes referred to as interpersonal violence or “IPV.”)
The inclusion of this screening in the Affordable Care Act is a tremendously important recognition of the prevalence of domestic violence in the lives of women throughout the country. Although statistics are hard to come by in this chronically underreported issue, as many as 25% of women may be affected by domestic violence during their lives. One of the reasons domestic violence is underreported is that many women don’t know how or where to find someone to talk to about it. So having a trusted health care provider bring up the issue as part of a routine check-up may be a good opportunity for some women to begin their journey to find help.
It’s important that providers know the domestic violence program(s) in their community and are able to directly connect the patient with a local resource. Domestic violence program staff have the experience and training to help each woman identify her options and create a safety plan that meets her individual situation and needs.
As the statewide resource on domestic violence, the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is working to ensure that health care providers across the state have the tools they need to appropriately screen for domestic violence. Both health care providers and community members can find a list of domestic violence programs across the state at the CCADV website: www.ccadv.org.