Aroostook County Staff at TAMC are taking on a serious issue: learning how to deal with situations involving domestic abuse and violence through a special training series conducted by TAMC leadership and Hope and Justice Project called “Show the Love.”

TAMC

“Interpersonal violence crosses lines to include all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, wealth, social status, education, profession, geographic location, ethnicity, and age or childhood experience. As a healthcare organization, we care about the wellbeing of our employees and patients,” said Lynn F. Turnbull, MHA, BSN, RN, TAMC’s director of education, emergency preparedness, ethics and chaplaincy services.

The training series, which includes five sessions throughout February, aims to increase understanding of issues surrounding domestic abuse and violence, improve the staff’s ability to facilitate victim disclosure whether the victim is a patient or a co-worker, make it possible for effective intervention, and identify available resources and services in the community for victims.

Recognizing the need for expert guidance in the area of domestic abuse and violence and wanting to find ways to play a key role in helping to addressing the issue in the community, TAMC turned to Hope and Justice Project’s Executive Director, Francine Garland Stark.

“Hope and Justice Project specializes in helping people affected by abuse and violence and works to foster a coordinated community response to these issues,” said Stark. “TAMC, as a health care provider, is uniquely able to screen for and recognize when patients are affected by abuse and to connect them to Hope and Justice Project for our specialized advocacy much as they connect patients to medical specialists for care. Hope and Justice Project is happy to provide training and consultation toward that goal as well as to provide advocates to be available on site at TAMC campuses to assist patients and/or employees as appropriate.”

Turnbull says TAMC has made a commitment to the prevention, recognition and treatment of domestic abuse. Already, TAMC providers are required to receive annual training in the identification and care of victims of domestic violence. These additional educational sessions will equip staff to understand the complex dynamics of domestic abuse and violence, as well as the implications for patient care and the workplace based upon state and national research.

February, which is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, is the perfect time to bring the issue of domestic abuse and violence to the forefront of conversation.

“One in three pre-teens, teens, and 20-somethings experience physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse from a dating partner,” said Turnbull.

It may be easy to take for granted the safety of rural areas like Aroostook County. While crime rates may be lower than other areas of the country, the number of domestic abuse and violence victims is still high. Hope and Justice Project provided services to 1,183 unique individuals directly impacted by abuse and violence in 2014 as well as many concerned family members and coworkers. Nearly all were from Aroostook County. Rates of occurrence are likely higher due to unreported incidents.

“TAMC is in a unique position to create a workplace and health care environment that invites disclosure by people affected by abuse and violence. However, if people are not well-informed about the safety risks that victims face, they may do unintentional harm, exposing victims to further risk,” explained Stark. “With training, TAMC employees can learn how to collaborate with victims of abuse to effectively reduce risk, enhance well-being, and contribute to perpetrators of abuse being held accountable for their behavior.”

Stark says everyone should make an effort to become more aware of the issue of domestic abuse and violence because it’s highly likely that an individual or someone the person cares for will deal with it in his or her lifetime.

“This is an issue impacting at least 1 in 4 women and a substantial number of men. Because it is so prevalent, it impacts most of our families in some way, our coworkers, and the people we see as patients,” explained Stark. “These training sessions provide a way to sort through the myths and realities of abuse and violence, gain a deeper understanding of the barriers to safety that victims of abuse and violence face, become fully aware of the services available and how to access them, and to improve one's professional and personal approach to supporting victims and survivors of abuse and violence so that they can move beyond the experience of abuse with helpful allies in their journeys to safety.”

Hope and Justice Project educators are available to provide workshops and training for other employers and for groups anywhere in Aroostook who are interested in learning more. For those who want to be directly involved in providing services, Hope and Justice Project offers a 40 hour training each spring and fall to prepare people to respond to their 24-hour hotline and become effective advocates. For more information about Hope and Justice Project’s volunteer training and other services, please go to their website: hopeandjusticeproject.org or send an email to info@hopeandjusticeproject.org.

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