Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Rachel Cardona Barnett who is a survivor of domestic violence. Today Dr. Erkeda chats with Rachel about her family’s escape from abuse. She shares her insights on how healthcare workers can help vulnerable victims as someone who has been in their shoes before.
- [01:46] Rachel’s Family and Background
- [05:31] Rachel’s escape and current situation
- [12:23] Becoming an ally to your patients
- [15:57] Helpful hotlines and resources
- [21:23] How to help victims of abuse
Partner violence and child abuse
Rachel’s ex-husband was abusive not just to her, but to their children as well. During doctor appointments, she felt ashamed to seek help even when her physicians were forthcoming about it. In time, she came to realize that the domestic violence needs to stop. It took three years but she was able to move to a different state to protect herself and her kids.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s newly found peace didn’t last long. Her ex-husband would ask for financial support and make claims that the children were wrongfully taken away from him. The lawsuit was transferred from Ohio to Arizona as requested by Rachel. Little did she know that Arizona’s courts would grant her husband joint custody. Even now, the children continue to experience the same kind of physical and psychological abuse from their father. Despite this, he maintains custody. Rachel’s case demonstrates that the justice system is not supportive of women and children in domestic abuse cases. Up until today, she continues to fight against her abuser for herself and for her family.
How to Advocate for Vulnerable Patients
As a healthcare professional, you can request to see a patient alone. It’s a chance to thoroughly examine him/her for any signs of physical abuse. Clinicians need to build trust by creating a safe environment for patients to open up about their circumstances. If something feels amiss, report it immediately. You could potentially help someone get out of an unhealthy situation. Victims of abuse lack support. By showing concern, physicians convey that they are on the victims’ side.
As a regular citizen, you can do your part to help victims of partner and child abuse by sharing resources. You can direct them to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Domestic Violence Hotline, and Prevent Child Abuse. You can also write to your local government officials to express your concern about the current laws and justice system.