On average, 24 people per minute in the United States are victims of physical violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner. One in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and three out of four people personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.

“The health impact of domestic violence is significant, and the effects go far beyond what you can physically see,” said Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, Founder of the Women’s Aftercare Clinic, which collaborates with the Passageway program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In fact, domestic violence is associated with a broad range of health issues, including fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal ailments, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) launched a new campaign, entitled “Do No Harm,” to raise awareness of domestic violence and provide information about screening and services.

As part of the campaign, dozens of employees and patients have been photographed holding a sign that reads “Do No Harm,” which is available for download here.  Photos submitted so far this month can be viewed on BWH Facebook page, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can join these individuals by adding your photo. A large display of pictures of joining hands and messages of inspiration and hope also can be viewed next to the gift shop at BWH.

“Last year alone, we provided intervention and services to more than 1,200 people impacted by unhealthy relationships with intimate partners,” said Mardi Chadwick, JD, director of Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs in the BWH Center for Community Health and Health Equity. “Please consider joining our effort to raise awareness about domestic violence by printing your own Do No Harm sign and posting your photograph or emailing it to bwhmediarelations@partners.org.”

As part of the Affordable Care Act, domestic violence screening and services for women are offered with no co-pay, deductible, or cost sharing, and BWH staff at the Passageway program offer confidential and personalized assistance and evaluation. Anyone interested in utilizing this service should call (617) 732-8753.

– Julio C/Jessica F

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