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Column: Community Collaboration To End Domestic Violence

— Domestic violence is a widespread public health problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and it is the leading cause of injury and homicide each year. While women are most commonly victimized, men are also abused.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied. It’s important for healthcare providers and others in the community to work together to increase awareness and offer avenues of assistance to those affected.

For more than a decade, Inova Alexandria Hospital has partnered with the Alexandria City Department of Community and Human Services (formerly the Alexandria Office on Women) to strengthen prevention and intervention efforts. Our hospital-based Domestic Violence Advisory Committee is comprised of nurses, social workers, patient relations representatives, and members of the Alexandria Police, Sheriff and Health departments. It supports and educates patients and staff, and collaborates with community agencies as needed, including Social Services, Northern Virginia Legal Aid, Victim Witness Assistance, Child Protective Services and others.

On Oct. 18, the committee will host the 10th annual Domestic Violence Awareness Day as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The popular event provides education and resources to hospital staff, physicians, volunteers and community members. This year, Sergeant Brett Parson of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department will share his expert knowledge on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community and domestic violence.

The more we work together as a community, the greater our opportunity to prevent — and one day end — this dangerous epidemic. Information and awareness are powerful tools. Educate yourself about warning signs and symptoms. If you suspect that someone is being abused, speak up. Offer to call 911 for them, get them to a safe place or help them find resources. Don’t be afraid to reach out and become involved. It could save a life.

Inova Alexandria Hospital Cares about Domestic Violence Awareness Day will be held on Thursday, Oct. 18, in the hospital atrium, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community members are welcome.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call 911, the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or the Alexandria City Domestic Violence Hotline: 703-746-4911.