Many are aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But did you know breast cancer awareness shares October with another very important women’s health issue? That issue is domestic violence.
At Human Options, an Orange County, California non-profit dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence, we witness the trauma domestic violence produces daily. We meet the very individuals and their family members that are included in these horrific national facts:
- Every year within the United States there are 211,000 new cases of breast cancer and 1,800,000 women are victimized by domestic violence.
- Nearly 33% of US female victims of homicide were murdered by an intimate partner.
- 26% of suicides by women are associated with domestic violence.
- Domestic violence is associated with higher rates of chronic disease.
- Women who experience domestic violence are 1.7 times more likely to have heart disease and 1.4 times more likely to have a heart attack.
Much like breast cancer, early detection through regular screenings and education can increase the treatment and survival rate of women who are victims of domestic violence. Why is that? Domestic violence shatters your sense of security, making one feel helpless and vulnerable in their own home. Repeated exposure to domestic violence causes the body to remain in a continual state of heightened stress. As Dr. Stephanie McClellan, a Newport Beach gynecologist, and co-author of So Stressed: The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women states, “prolonged exposure to stress is a primary factor for women with chronic and life-threatening illnesses like cancer, heart disease and depression.”
Founded on the belief that no woman or child should be afraid in their own home, Human Options breaks the cycle of domestic violence by providing safety, healing and a way forward for victims of domestic violence.
Emerging research funded by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that hospital-based domestic violence
interventions will reduce health care costs by at least 20 percent
Recently, two Orange County health care systems, Kaiser Permanente and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, partnered with Human Options to strengthen domestic violence screenings and early interventions within their delivery systems. Human Options is also working with health care professionals within these organizations to raise awareness on the impact domestic violence has on women’s health.
October is a time to focus on eliminating two very important women’s health issues—breast cancer and domestic violence. Ending breast cancer and breaking the cycle of domestic violence will give our mothers, sisters, daughters, co-workers and friends a way forward to a healthy, violence-
For more information on Human Options, please call 949-737-5242, ext. 230 or visit at www.humanoptions.org.
1Burke, E. Kelley, L., Rudman, W. Ph.D & MacLeod. Initial findings from the Health Care Cost Study on Domestic Violence.