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MO Hospitals "Rise Above Abuse" During Domestic Violence Month

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October 21, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a nationally-recognized program in Kansas City hospitals is being honored at a rally today in Kansas City. Organizers hope its impact will soon spread to other medical facilities.

The premise of the Bridge Program is that, when a domestic violence victim walks into a hospital or clinic, the person's abusive situation may go unnoticed if doctors and other health care providers aren't properly trained. This unique crisis intervention program teaches them to notice the more subtle signs of abuse, and to determine when it would be appropriate to contact a counselor.

This "bridge" that can lead victims to the help and services they need is now being used in eight Kansas City hospitals and four community clinics. Jill Bleything, who directs the Bridge Program at the Rose Brooks Center, says the hospital staff can make a big impact in a victim's life, simply by asking the right questions.

"And how to ask the question and when to ask the question. They wouldn't want to ask the question if there was someone with the patient; they would always want to ask the patient the question, alone."

Compared with never-abused women, a recent Ohio State University study found domestic violence victims have an almost sixfold increase in substance abuse, and three times as many suffer from depression. Bleything says the numbers underscore the need for training programs such as this one, that prompts medical professionals to detect what others might miss.

"They're not coming in with that black eye or broken arm. They're coming in with depression, or something not so obvious."

To celebrate the Bridge Program progress and commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, "Rise Above Abuse" rallies are scheduled today (Wed., Oct. 21) at Research Medical Center from noon to 1:00 p.m.; and next week (Wed., Oct. 28) at St. Joseph Medical Center, also from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO