This monthly series is a partnership of the New Pittsburgh Courier, Community PARTners (a core service of the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute—CTSI), the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion. All articles can be accessed online at the New Pittsburgh Courier website. These pages will provide you with valuable information on health topics that may affect you, your family or friends, and also connect you to local health initiatives and resources.
This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on domestic violence. Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and chief of adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League, discussed this important topic.
EM: Good afternoon, Ms. Bush. This month we’re focusing on a topic that recently has received a lot of national attention—domestic violence. October is designated Domestic Violence Awareness month. As you know, I’ve spent the last 20 years doing research about the impact of violence against women and girls on their health and what we might do to prevent such violence.
EB: This topic is one that may be difficult for many to talk about. It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have because it is so personal. However, given the recent media coverage of domestic violence, we cannot keep ignoring how this violence affects all of us. Tragically, we’ve just lost an Urban League employee who died at the hands of her partner. The most challenging part is how to appropriately deal with abuse that is coming from the hands of someone whom you may love. Folks don’t want to cause harm to the abuser. They tend to explain it away, minimize it or believe promises that it “won’t happen again.”
EM: I’m so sorry to hear that! Yes. Research shows us that about one in three women experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner during her lifetime. This number is higher for African American, Latina and Native-American women. We use the term “intimate partner violence” often interchangeably with domestic violence, as this kind of violence can occur in romantic relationships, even when the individuals are not living together (including adolescents and college students).
EB: I also think it’s important to remember that intimate partner violence can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, sexes and socioeconomic circumstances. What can we be doing to prevent such violence?
EM: As Dr. Chang noted, there’s is a lot of research being done in this area. The Pittsburgh community has also begun engaging men and boys in prevention of violence against women. Large numbers of male leaders in our community have begun speaking out against such violence (with the support of foundations, victim service agencies and our local leaders, including Mayor Bill Peduto and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald).
EB: We’re indeed so fortunate in Pittsburgh to have city and county leaders to help focus on prevention. I also know you’re working with coaches to talk to their young male athletes about standing up against peers’ disrespectful and harmful behaviors. I was thrilled to see that you received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring this program with coaches to area middle schools.
EM: Thank you, Ms. Bush. I’m excited about the work we have planned together to prevent violence among youths served by the Urban League. It’s important to know that there are many resources and places to turn to here in our community. The resource list on this page provides phone numbers and places that are available 24 hours a day to assist those who need it. If anyone has any questions about the information on this page, e-mail PARTners@hs.pitt.edu.
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