Friday, April 8, 2016

What if it was your daughter?

It is a tragedy that one in every four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life. What’s even more shocking is that according to the U.S. Justice Department on average every day three women are killed by their partners.

I am proud that GBMC has been a leader in helping the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and in educating the community to reduce these attacks on women. The assessment and treatment of victims of sexual assault are very complex. Expertise and caring are required not only to address the medical and psychologic needs of the patient but also to complete the forensic work necessary to aid law enforcement in the identification of the perpetrator and to see that justice is served. At GBMC, we have a very sophisticated Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) program.  A number of years ago and until her retirement, Linda Kelly was instrumental in educating and training our medical and nursing staff to better identify and respond to patients in need. Now, under the leadership of, Laura Clary, our SAFE program is growing and expanding in new directions helping us to better meet our mission of health, healing, and hope for those in our community and our vision of serving everyone the way we want our own loved ones served.
GBMC also serves survivors of domestic violence, including survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The goals of the domestic violence program include providing 24/7 in-house victim advocacy response. Sexual assault and domestic violence patients not only get quality medical-forensic treatment but also receive much-needed crisis intervention and safety planning.

Recognizing another need in Baltimore County and Harford County, our forensic nurses have been working closely with the Crimes Against Children Unit and are now expanding the program to care for not only victims that are 13 and older, but also 12 and under. This way we can provide comprehensive services for victims of all ages.  Members of our SAFE program have also traveled to local high schools to educate students about healthy relationships, boundaries, internet safety and general information about how to help someone who has been a victim.

And our SAFE program has expanded its educational reach beyond Maryland. This past fall, we hosted a Forensic Nurse Examiner Course and trained 24 nurses from all over the world.  We recognize that violence against women is a global crisis, so training nurses not just for our program but for others around the world is very important. Among the students were nurses in the US Military being deployed overseas, and a nurse from Nigeria. We will be hosting another training at the end of this month.

Our program has received its share of accolades as Colleen Moore, our Domestic Violence Coordinator, recently won a Governor’s Award for Excellent Victim Services, Laura was selected as Baltimore’s Top Nurse (Woman’s Health category) and our SAFE Program was awarded a Citation from the Maryland General Assembly for excellent services provided to the citizens of Baltimore County.  And, Laura was personally invited by Vice President Joseph Biden to attend his visit to the Maryland State Police Forensics Lab a year ago. A clear example of how strong a reputation our SAFE program has not just locally or in the region, but nationally as well! To date, GBMC’s Domestic Violence Program has provided services to more than 800 individuals and our SAFE program sees approximately 140 patients annually.

We come nowhere close to covering the cost of these programs with health insurance billing. So, next weekend I will be participating in the Walk-A-Mile In Her Shoes event in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As you might already know, GBMC is hosting the event, in which men walk a mile in high heels, as a way to educate the community and advocate for those who have survived sexual assault and domestic violence while raising money to support the SAFE and domestic violence programs.

Our SAFE and Domestic Violence programs do so much for our community and we are grateful for all the community support that is allowing GBMC to provide these necessary services for women across the community. I hope that you all see the value as well and consider walking with us and/or financially supporting the event. For more info., please visit:

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