By Benjamin Seto, Permanente Federation Communications
Do you know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault? Odds are that you do. Domestic violence is a common problem that affects women and men from all backgrounds, at home and in the workplace. In the United States, one in four women and one in 7 men experience extreme physical abuse by a spouse or partner in their lifetime.
According to a survey sponsored by the NO MORE campaign, the numbers are alarming:
- 149 million Americans know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault
- 54 million Americans report they have been a victim of domestic violence
- 32 million Americans report they have been a victim of sexual assault
Yet despite the fact that more than half of all Americans aged 15 or older know a victim of domestic violence, only 15 percent believe it’s a problem among their friends. And even fewer conversations are happening about sexual assault.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Kaiser Permanente is a sponsor of the national NO MORE Campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault. NO MORE and its logo of a blue vanishing zero serve as a unifying symbol to normalize the conversation around these issues across the nation so it’s no longer seen as an invisible problem.
“As a health care organization, we understand the dramatic impact on health caused by sexual assault and domestic violence, and the opportunity teaming up with NO MORE provides in creating a national voice that will end the silence,” says Brigid McCaw, MD, chair of the Kaiser Permanente Interregional Domestic Violence Leaders. “I am so proud that every Kaiser Permanente region is embracing this campaign and working to address the health needs of our members experiencing domestic violence.”
“NO MORE is proud to be teaming up with Kaiser Permanente to raise awareness about the important public health issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” says Virginia Witt, NO MORE’s director. “During October, we will be working together to educate and engage men and women across the country.”
Kaiser Permanente has shown its ongoing support of the NO MORE campaign since its launch in 2013. This year, Kaiser Permanente is also helping to expand the reach of the message to the Latino community with the development of fotonovelas.
In addition, physicians, medical staff and employees at Kaiser Permanente have shared their personal stories and experiences with domestic violence. These 12 “silentWitness” stories of courage and hope are available in English and in Spanish and are intended to break the silence around this issue, encourage dialogue, and show that help is available.
Within Latino communities, fotonovelas are a very popular form of entertainment. They are similar to comic books that tell stories through photos of real people with dialogue bubbles. Because fotonovelas are culturally relevant, easy to read, and familiar to Latino populations, they are commonly used as health education tools to educate and empower Latinos of all ages.
These health fotonovelas can easily be distributed and traded throughout the Latino community. This form of “edutainment,” content that serves to educate and entertain, has been an innovative and effective strategy to reach Latino communities with various health messages.
Kaiser Permanente’s Family Violence Prevention is collaborating with Regional Health Education in Northern California and La Salud Permanente to use a fotonovela that builds awareness of domestic violence and the need to create safe environments for families. The aim is to integrate this fotonovela into patient care and spread it throughout Latino communities.
“Our overall goal with the domestic violence fotonovela project is to ensure we are providing the best resources – culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate — to support our Latino communities and see an end to domestic violence,” says Dr. McCaw.
At Kaiser Permanente, we believe everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. To learn more about our domestic violence program, visit kp.org/domesticviolence. For additional information on how to get help, resources can be found here, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Cynthia Telles, PhD, community benefit committee chair, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Inc.
“The biggest obstacle to ending domestic violence is the stigma behind it. Until we can talk about the problem openly, we continue to give it too much power over us, over those we care about, over our communities.”
Here is the full interview with Dr. Cynthia Telles and No More.