Domestic Violence


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About the Coalition

Founded in 1998, the mission of the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence is to provide leadership within health care in promoting a proactive and effective response to intimate partner violence through screening, identification, education, intervention and treatment of domestic violence victims. Members include physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, lawyers, law enforcement officers, administrators and others concerned about this public health epidemic. Ongoing initiatives include partnering with MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, through its affiliate, the Center for a Healthy Maryland; the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence and the Mid-Atlantic Prevent Abuse and Neglect through Dental Awareness (PANDA) program to educate professionals in meeting the clinical challenges of domestic violence.

The American Medical Association states that violence in the family has reached epidemic proportions. According to FBI statistics, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States – more common than automobile accidents, muggings and rapes combined. In May of 1997, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers concluded, “All women seeking care in emergency departments should be asked directly about partner violence, regardless of marital status or current relationships….” Eighty percent of Americans stated that they could tell a physician if they had been either a victim or a perpetrator of family violence; however, a study in the August 4, 1999 issue of JAMA found that less than 10 percent of primary care physicians routinely screen their patients for domestic violence during office visits. Statistics like these reflect the enormity of the problem of intimate partner violence.

Government and private grants have enabled the Coalition to develop and distribute a series of educational brochures for health care professionals, as well as English and Spanish brochures for both adults and teen victims, about the health consequences of domestic violence. In 2001, A Model for Maryland’s Healthcare Community, “Domestic Violence Policy Guidelines” was endorsed by the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A Time-comparison Chart illustrates that screening for domestic violence is no more time consuming than screening for heart disease. The Coalition’s Board of Directors meets monthly and disseminates its message through:

  • Targeted mailings to health care professionals, institutions and high schools.
  • Collaborating and networking with other professionals with similar missions.
  • Seminars and conferences aimed at educating health care professionals about timely issues surrounding domestic violence, including issues of medical confidentiality and mandatory reporting.
  • Public information campaigns targeting low income and underserved populations utilizing mass transit advertising, billboards and movie theater ads to promote the message that domestic violence is unacceptable and has health consequences for both victims and their children.
  • Initiatives for Domestic Violence Awareness Month each October, including traveling educational displays at metropolitan hospitals.

Any individual or agency interested in working to end domestic violence is invited to participate in the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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Contact Information

For more information on Domestic Violence or to join the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence, please contact:

Betsy Lehmann
Phone: 410-539-0872 or 800-492-1056, ext. 3316

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