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Laura Clary discusses Domestic Violence

October 12, 2017
What impacts at least one person every 20 minutes and affects 1 in 4 families in Baltimore County? The answer is domestic violence. Laura Clary, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, CPEN, Clinical Program Manager for GBMC's Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) program, discusses domestic violence in the latest installment of "To Your Health."

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence is the repeated abusive behavior that one partner uses against another in order to gain, or maintain, control over the other person. Clary explains that this type of abuse is about having control and power over another person. It can come in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, and even financial abuse. Intimate partner violence does not discriminate. “It’s a crime that affects all communities, genders, races, ages, and individuals of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Teen Dating Violence Rises with Social Media

With the rise of social media, teen dating violence has become more prevalent. Yet, because of their young age and inexperience in relationships, teen victims might not understand that what is happening to them is abuse and that the controlling behavior of their partner is not normal. In many cases, teens do not know what to do about their situation, may feel embarrassed and try to hide the abuse from friends and family, and may refuse to report the abusive situation.

Where to Go for Help

GBMC’s SAFE Program is a team of forensic nurses and victim advocates that care for patients who are victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, human trafficking, and child abuse who come into the hospital. In many instances, a victim of abuse is more likely to come to the hospital before they go to the police.

Clary adds, “All of our patients come in through the Emergency Department (ED) and are a priority. The SAFE nurse will care for the patient, take them to a private area that is separate from the ED, and perform a sexual assault forensic exam. When we treat these patients, we want to give them back control. The crime that happened to them took away their control. They make the decisions about what we do during the exam and how we help them.”

The message to all victims of intimate partner abuse, teen dating violence and sexual assault is clear – you are not alone. There is help. Tune into this important conversation where Laura Clary details the red flags and warning signs that everyone should be aware of to potentially help victims of intimate partner and teen dating violence and how victims can find the help they need.
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