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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE DURING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

In 1989, the United States Congress passed a public law proclaiming October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month; the same legislation has passed every year since then.

During Domestic Violence Aware Month, we shine a light on domestic violence to help countless women and men get through some of the most challenging and frightening circumstances, educate others about those challenges, and share resources to help survivors get the help they need.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 individuals per minute in the United States are physically abused by an intimate partner. This equates to more than 10 million women and men each year who are abused.

Domestic violence was already an epidemic before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This public health crisis may have contributed to exacerbated incidents of abuse. Safety measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus have also created conditions that may contribute to domestic abuse. Quarantine—intended to protect individuals and prevent widespread coronavirus infection—increases domestic violence risk by keeping victims at home with their abuser, cutting them off from friends, relatives, and crisis shelters.

Extended school closures and online learning pressures, unemployment, furloughed, and laid-off workers have increased concerns about intimate partner violence due to the added stress that heightens already dangerous situations.

Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted in various cities and states, abuse will not merely end—it remains a critical time for individuals in danger. The numbers tell a story.

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact, sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner 
  • A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in the US  
  • More than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women
  • Victims of domestic violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs 
  • Domestic violence and sexual violence hotlines across the New York State received 341,909 calls in 2018, a 19 percent increase from the total calls received in 2017
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (CDC, 2017) 
  • 1 in 10 women in the United States will be raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime (CDC, 2010)
  • An estimated 9.7 percent of women and 2.3 percent of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime (CDC, 2017)
  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (CDC, 2017) 

On October 4, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, in a visit to SUNY Downstate, announced a new comprehensive resource for students in response to a nationwide uptick in mental health and wellness needs to the impact of COVID-19. The new comprehensive plan will expand access to mental health services to every student at SUNY’s 64 campuses.

As part of this new plan, SUNY is partnering with Thriving Campus to provide every SUNY student with access to a network of more than 6,000 licensed mental health service providers. The mobile-friendly app, already in use at two SUNY campuses, breaks down several crucial, often overlooked barriers that students frequently encounter in the process of reaching out for help. By streamlining and simplifying a stressful and overwhelming process, and by building synergy with local mental health providers, more students will be seamlessly connected with the specific help they need, when they need it.

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University will serve as a hub for students on five campuses for tele-counseling. It will offer cognitive behavioral therapy and consultative service for clinicians. Crisis assistance will be provided by SUNY physicians, psychologists, or nurse practitioners on a secure online platform. SUNY will also expand a peer-to-peer assistance hotline operated by the University at Albany to all students across the entire SUNY system.

Students do not need to be in crisis to use this hotline. It is a stigma-free, secure line for connecting about emotional, social, and other life issues. Read the press release here.You can also see the announcement here.

No one should suffer, nor should one suffer in silence. At SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, we are committed to providing the resources to anyone who needs help to leave a violent situation or manage difficult situations.

Downstate’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary information assessment and referral service that provides all employees with a confidential setting to discuss personal issues and get the necessary help. All current employees, their immediate families, Downstate retirees, and their immediate families are eligible to use the EAP service. Additionally, all residents and house staff of University Hospital and individuals who hold faculty appointments, regardless of assignment, are eligible to use the EAP services.

Magda Alliancin, Ed.D. is Downstate’s EAP Program Coordinator; she can be reached at magda.alliancin@downstate.edu. I encourage anyone needing assistance to contact her. All information is confidential.

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.