Intimate Partner Violence Workshop Provides Tools for Intervention

In the United States, nearly one in four women report experiencing violence by a current or a former spouse or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Substance use plays a facilitative role in intimate partner violence (IPV) by precipitating or exacerbating violence.

During a 2:30 to 3:30 pm Saturday workshop in Room 410, speakers will share advances in the basic understanding of how to treat both victims and perpetrators with addiction.

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Richard G. Soper, MD, JD, MS, FASAM, DABAM

Richard G. Soper, MD, JD, MS, FASAM, DABAM, Chief of Addiction Medicine and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for Behavior Wellness in Nashville, Tennessee, and Hendree Jones, PhD, Executive Director of the Horizons Program and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, are the presenters.

“Most victims have a huge sense of personal shame, embarrassment, and fear. Almost all suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. A lot use substances to self-medicate,” Dr. Soper said. “There is no way we’ll ever turn some of this around if we are not willing to intervene. We need to help break the chain so the next generation realizes the behavior they have witnessed in their homes between adult companions is not acceptable.”

The workshop will provide clinicians with specialized and practical tools to competently identify past and current IPVs, make brief office interventions to assist IPV victims, and offer strategies to refer victims for subspecialty and community-based evaluation, treatment, and advocacy.

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Hendree Jones, PhD

Health care professionals need to recognize that experiences in infancy and early childhood, including trauma, provide an organizing framework for a child’s intelligence, emotions, and personality. Dr. Jones noted that the midbrains and forebrains of children who grow up in violent and abusive living situations are affected more than their cortexes.

“They enter every interaction as one that may threaten their survival,” she said. “We need to help providers recognize that abuse often starts in childhood and may be experienced in adulthood, unless we can help recognize, address and prevent the abuse.”

“We at least need to raise the level of conversation by approaching victims in a nonjudgmental way. We can use a particular vocabulary and a survey method to screen patients so we then can provide patients with tools and other options,” Dr. Soper said. “There certainly are some boundaries. A lot of situations can be volatile and even fatal, so we need to intervene and move the victim and children to a safe house immediately.”

Intimate partner violence has no discrimination, affecting heterosexuals, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals equally.

“I don’t know anyone in health care who can say none of their patients have this problem,” Dr. Soper said. “We are not here to judge our patients. We’re here to help them. If my patients can be honest with me, trust me, and talk to me, then I can try to go over our options so they don’t have to be concerned financially or about their safety,” said Dr. Soper, pointing to his center’s own 12-step program that meets weekly, community health centers where they can receive care, Junior League anger management classes, and 24-hour hotlines to get immediate transportation and housing, for example.

Attendees will leave the workshop with a view of childhood trauma that can help guide assessment and intervention with IPV victims.

“We hope to educate and raise awareness so that those who participate leave knowing they can at least have an informal dialogue about how to address intimate partner violence,” Dr. Soper said.