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Violence Against Women

Programs & Events

About Our Programs

Team Leader: Frances E. Ashe-Goins, R.N., M.P.H.

The Office on Women's Health works to stimulate programmatic and policy activity within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in order to advance the work of eliminating violence against women (VAW) and girls in our country and the world.

We coordinate partnerships within the department and with other federal, state, and local agencies, in part, through our coordination of the DHHS Steering Committee on Violence Against Women and our staffing for the presidential appointed National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women.

Additionally we serve as the point of contact for DHHS on violence against women issues and in that role we direct citizens, colleagues, and organizations to the appropriate office or agency to respond to inquiries and provide resource information.

Through the work of our Regional Women's Health Offices we have had an impact on domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence against girls throughout the country. The Regional Women's Health Coordinators have done ground breaking work on the issues faced by incarcerated women, tribal women, and women in the territories.

In past years some of our work has focused on how violence affects women with disabilities, men as partners in prevention, and enhancing college and university curriculums to include domestic violence and sexual assault issues.

We also supported community-based immigrant women serving violence against women organization's in both urban and rural environments in 2005.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year, the Office on Women's Health (OWH) will highlight an important aspect of violence against women (VAW) by hosting Prevention of Teen Dating Violence: You Can Make A Difference!

A Prevention and Intervention AIDS-Related Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Team Leader: Aleisha Langhorne, M.P.H., M.H.S.A.

Currently we have funded a program entitled "A Prevention and Intervention AIDS-Related Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence." Under this program, organizations will develop and implement programs to address the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS. The programs shall be specifically designed to serve female survivors of domestic violence. The program is designed to train their counselors to incorporate HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention strategies when working with their clients. The contractors are:

  1. Susan B. Spencer, Inc.
    8016 Flourtown Ave.
    Wyndmoor, PA 19038-7920
    Phone: 215-233-5373

  2. Ensync Diversified Management Services, Inc.
    655 W. Fulton Street, Suite 6
    Sanford, FL 32771-1788
    Phone: 407-936-1515

  3. The Wright Group
    124 O Street,
    SW Washington, DC 20024-9997
    Phone: 202-904-6824

  4. Social Solutions International, Inc.
    18303 Wickham Road
    Olney, MD 20832-3141
    Phone: 301-774-0897

Regional Programs

I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X

Region I

Maine – Safe Families Initiative

OWH Central Office Violence Against Women funds to expand the Safe Families Initiative to support training for Healthy Maine Partnership staff in the districts and also include local health officers and others in the new Maine public health districts. Training would also involve TANF and Aspire staff both in central office as well as local communities. The state contact for the program will be working with DV and SA coalitions, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Boys to Men, Attorney General's office, Maine DHHS offices of Integrated Services and Child and Family Services, ME OMH, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care and Maine Women's Health Campaign (a partnership with over 15 community partners across the state of Maine).

Region II

Training Institute on Mental Health and Trauma Affecting Women and Children, November 2008

The Institute will provide training to state and local government agencies and community-based organizations working in the fields of trauma, mental health, domestic violence and sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, suicide prevention, primary health care, and emergency preparedness and response to develop and foster systems of trauma-informed care. Members of the Region II OWH Strategy Group on Mental Health and Trauma Affecting Women and Children, which include statewide coalitions on domestic violence and sexual assault. VAW funds from OWH/CO will be used to help support speakers and trainers for the Training Institute. Funds will go towards a Contractor, which will assist with logistics for the Training Institute.

Region III

  1. West Virginia – Domestic Violence and Mental Health: Creating Collaborative Service Delivery in the Community, April to December 31, 2008

    During FY 2005-06 the local licensed domestic violence programs in WV served over 16,000 people (WVCADV Annual Data Report 2006), predominantly women, and found that for many, in addition to the violence, there were critical mental health issues. The purpose of this contract is to build and enhance community-based collaborative services and increase the understanding of the issues related to the co-occurrence of domestic violence and mental health. The work will be carried out through training for domestic violence advocates in the local licensed programs. This training will focus on the specific issues of the co-occurrence of domestic violence and mental health, the roles of both the domestic violence advocate and the mental health provider in addressing complex issues, handling mental health-related crisis situations in the shelters, addressing cultural competency in this area and developing strategies for building community-based cross-services. Starting in May 2008 until December 31, 2008, the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WVCADV) will organize a statewide training for 100 advocates from the local licensed domestic violence programs in West Virginia to address mental health and violence and injury prevention in collaboration with the existing mental health system.

  2. Pennsylvania – Addressing Intimate Partner Violence Through Peer Educators in a College Campus, September 30, 2007 to June 30, 2008

    The purpose of this contract is to raise awareness about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) among women and men on a college campus through peer educators. Each of the workshops will provide information in a culturally appropriate mode using principles of health literacy. The contract will fund the planning, implementation, and evaluation of one, two hour educational workshop for up to 25 college participants, who will become peer educators for other college students. Workshop topic will include but not be limited to date rape, unhealthy relationships, forms of intimate partner violence, ways to prevent intimate partner violence, and other health conditions linked to intimate partner violence such as HIV and STD.

Region IV

  1. Georgia – The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute National Women's Health Week

    Females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99 (Oct. 2001, rev. 11/28/01). There is a dearth of age-appropriate, culturally-specific education, training and resources on relationship violence for young women and teen girls to help them recognize signs of abuse, access services and prevention resources. Crises centers lack culturally-specific resources that also embrace faith understandings. Consequently, many young women and girls will not venture into these agencies or seek their resources in crisis. Young women and girls in Metro Atlanta are targeted with all forms of gender violence, from stalking up to and including femicide. This year, reaching younger audiences is an even higher priority for primary prevention. BCDVI's May 2008 summit will debut a new arts based, civic dialogue for audiences as young as middle school. This educational format has been found to be increasingly effective with younger participants. BCDVI has a three phase program for reaching teens and young adults over the next 12 months. Phase One: The National Women's Health Week Teen Relationship Violence Summit taking place in May, 2008.  Phase Two: A leadership forum during the summer, July, 2008. Phase Three: During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, teen consultants will work together with their community agency or congregation to conduct the Domestic Violence Sabbath Observance.

    Through the Summit 200-250 youth and young adults will be introduced to the dynamics of relationship violence. From this group, 25-50 youth will be trained as consultants. These consultants will reach an additional 100 - 250 young women and teen girls who will receive culturally competent information and referral about intimate partner/ sexual violence. Exposure to the issues surrounding the leading cause of injury to American women will also increase the likelihood that young women and teens can confidently approach the local domestic and sexual violence agencies when appropriate. Scope of work is 300 – 500 youth will be reached with training, organizing/referral skills and educational resources. Virtual educational resources are set to be available online to the BCDVI national network of teen and campus-serving organizations and institutions.

  2. Tennessee – Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Poster Campaign

    Poster campaign informing victims of sexual assault of the availability of free forensic rape exams.

  3. Tennessee – Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, Mental Health in the Workplace initiative

    The initiative includes informing employers of mental health issues and resources for women in the workplace, includes free on-line mental health screening. Conditions such as depression can be secondary to domestic or workplace violence against women. The MHA of ET is holding a Work Site Mental Health conference and work site training in partnership with Employee Assistance Programs.

  4. O.R.A.N.E. Prevention and Relationship Conference

    Prevention and relationship conference for female college students between 18 and 25 years attending a historically black college or university in North Carolina.

  5. OPA/Family Planning Clinics

    OPA/Family planning clinics have not yet funded but are in the planning period to pilot a screening for domestic violence programs.

Region V

Illinois – Women, Girls and Trauma: Creating Gender-Responsive Services

The impact of trauma is an issue with serious implications on women and girl's health. Although the issue remains to be studied in detail, the few studies that have been done indicate that girls and women who experience trauma suffer from long-term physical and mental health effects such as low-self esteem, alcohol and drug addiction, eating disorders, interpersonal violence, unhealthy relationships, sexual dysfunction, and hygiene. It is clear that trauma impacts the lives and health of our girls and women today in a great capacity, and that it is essential for health and social services professionals to be adequately trained to appropriately respond to this special vulnerable population of people.

Even more underserved than girls and women in general, are incarcerated girls and women. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2000 women represented 6.6% of all state and federal prisoners and as a population, the percentage of women incarcerated has grown 108% since 1990. The population of incarcerated women has doubled in the last ten years1. Women, particularly minority women, are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the U.S. This population of women suffers from a greater disease burden than the general public. Incarcerated women suffer disproportionately high rates of chronic disease such as asthma, obesity and diabetes. Most striking is the proportion of incarcerated women suffering from co-occurring disorders: the combination of substance abuse with a significant mental health disorder.

The Region V Office on Women's Health, in collaboration with Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG), sponsored a two-day training symposium to cultivate and educate health and social services professionals, academics, and prison staff on a gender-responsive system of care for women and girls who have suffered from trauma in April 2008. The first day was an all-day training session entitled Women, Girls and Trauma: Creating Gender-Responsive Services and was led by Stephanie Covington, founder of the Center for Gender and Justice. It was held at the Fairmont Hotel, in Chicago, IL and served as an overview about the impact of trauma on women and girls' health and creating gender-responsive services. The all-day training session was also videotaped so that it can later be available on the web for those who were unable to benefit from the training. The second day was targeted toward state and local juvenile justice administrators, facility health and mental health directors and supervisors, and other mid and senior-level program staff and focused on discussing the needs of incarcerated girls. This day also featured other invited guest speakers such as Kim Sokoloff along with Stephanie Convington.

1U.S. Department of Justice. (2001) Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prisoners in 2000.

Region VI

  1. Arkansas – Respect the Legacy: Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence, Counseling Services of Eastern Arkansas and Forrest City Arkansas

    The statistics are grim, Arkansas ranks among the top three states for domestic homicides, and first in domestic abuse homicides for African-American women. Counseling Services of Eastern Arkansas, a community mental health center, partners with the St. Francis County Rural Domestic Violence Coalition. The domestic violence coalition will work with Counseling Services of Eastern Arkansas to implement a community marketing campaign centered on educating individuals about warning signs of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and strategies women can use to remove themselves from those situations. The organization will use marketing information and curriculum from The Praxis International program called, "Take a Stand…Respect the Legacy…Respect Black Women," to implement their community campaign. The program will be implemented through town hall meetings, support groups, advertising, and a conference. The conference will be supported with OWH Region VI domestic violence funds. Expected attendance will be 200-250.

  2. New Mexico – Faith Summit Response to Domestic Violence Prevention, Esperanza Shelter, Santa Fe, New Mexico

    In 2007, 2,500 domestic incidents were reported to police department, which represents approximately 3.5% of population of city of Santa Fe. Esperanza's shelter is the only facility in Santa Fe County that provides emergency shelter and services specifically for homeless victims of domestic violence and their children. A faith response workgroup was formed to involve the local faith community and to educate clergy concerning domestic violence in the community, and how to work with members to support and refer appropriately. OWH Region VI funds will be used to support a Faith Summit Response to Domestic Violence Prevention in September 2008. Expected attendance is 150 participants.

  3. Texas – Central Texas Women's Wellness Day, The Family Abuse Center Waco, Texas

    The number of minority women served by The Family Abuse Center in a seven county is 1.55% above the national average. Rape is reported to be 15.9% above the national average. The Family Abuse Center would partner with schools, churches, public health department, other health/social community organizations, and physicians to host a health and wellness event in each county. By using a women's health approach the issue of domestic violence can be discussed in concert with other women's health concerns. They anticipate 50-100 women in each county to attend the event.

  4. Texas – Hope's Door Domestic Violence Infrastructure Building, Plano, Texas

    It is estimated that there will be over 11,000 family violence incidents in Collin County in 2008 based of FBI Uniform Crime Report and Department of Justice estimates. Although a large number of violent incidents were reported as white, 26% were African American, and 11% Hispanic. Hope's Door is the only family violence emergency shelter in Collin County. The organization would like to outreach to two groups: 1) Salon Owners who provide hair/nail services to women of color, and 2) to the faith-based community. Being a relatively new organization, the OWH Region VI funds would be used to assist the organization develop an educational curriculum and domestic violence prevention marketing strategy to reach women in the community who attend salons and/or church.

Region VII

Fabric of the Family: The Effects of Domestic Violence

The purpose of this contract is to increase awareness of domestic violence through education and skill building, highlight the effects of domestic violence on children, the ABC's of domestic violence and disseminating of resources. This will be achieved through current research, statistics, highlighting new programs, and networking with service providers. This will be accomplished by hosting a domestic violence conference titled "Fabric of the Family: The Effects of Domestic Violence" that includes all perspectives of domestic violence, which will lead to an action item that will change or enhance domestic violence services in region VII. The overall goal of the event will be to assist participants in identifying early warning signs of domestic violence and know that it is not expectable to be abused mentally, physically, or emotionally. The format of the conference will include plenary, breakout and panel presentations with exhibitors disseminating educational information. The audience will include service providers, health professionals, medical personnel, shelters, social workers, justice system personnel, churches, teachers, daycare workers, schools, court personnel, women, men, youth, and families.

Region VIII

  1. Colorado – Safety Skills for Latina Women, Rape Assistance and Awareness Program

    RAAP will develop and implement a personal safety skills and violence prevention education program for Spanish speaking women. They will partner with local agencies that work closely with Latinas, develop Spanish language marketing materials, and obtain a provider appropriate for this population of underserved women. They will reach 60 women with 39 total hours of education provided.

  2. North Dakota – Violence Awareness Among Young Women, Central Valley Health Dept

    There are two components to this project. The first is a workshop for high school girls about violence prevention, abstinence, conflict resolution, and empowerment. The second component will involve a team of school professionals who will attend a coordinated school health conference in ND and will develop a team approach for the 2008-2009 school year on violence prevention strategies and the promotion of healthy lifestyles for high school girls. Jamestown, ND, is a rural area in ND which has reported an increase in suicides, suicide attempts, and reports of dating violence among high school girls in the last several years.

Region IX

The objectives of the Region IX Violence Against Women Education and Prevention Initiative are to:

  1. Increase education and awareness of violence against women and girls, in all its forms, as a chronic public health issue;
  2. Increase the use of screening and assessment tools which determine women and/or girls' risk factors for becoming victims of violence; and
  3. Promote training of peers, lay health workers, health care providers, et al in the diagnosis and symptoms of abuse and the options available to the victims.

We are awarding four (4) contracts to community-based organizations to address one or more of the above-mentioned objectives. They are:

  1. American Indian Prevention Coalition/NDNS4Wellness

    They will partner with the Arizona Guiding Star Lodge, a residential treatment center for Native American women. The contractor will screen the women residents and their children, for risk factors, hold round table discussions on various aspects of violence, train the women on positive discipline strategies to be used with their children, and disseminate violence educational materials at local powwows.

  2. Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

    The contractor will develop a Gender Violence Initiative which is inclusive of women and transgender women. They will train case-managers and counselors to strengthen their skills in gender violence risk assessments, safety planning, and crisis counseling. Also, they will hold self-defense and awareness workshops targeted toward specific groups, e.g., transgender empowerment, queer youth, lesbian women, etc.

  3. California Black Women's Health Project

    The contractor will engage in a two-prong effort: First, their Advocate Training Program (ATP) is a leadership development and skill building course designed to train women and girls from grassroots communities to become effective health policy activists and advocates. A new group of ATP trainees, ages 18-24 years, will be trained on sexual violence prevention advocacy. Secondly, their annual policy summit will include planning for future advocacy on sexual violence prevention.

  4. Guam Communications Network

    The contractor will form a coalition of Samoan ministers' wives, elders, leaders of Pacific Islander women's organizations, etc. who will become the Pacific Islander VAW Education and Pacific Workgroup. This group will take the lead in planning a Pacific Islanders Women's Forum that will focus on education and prevention of violence against Pacific Islander women and girls.

Region X

Region X is receiving $10,000 for VAW/domestic violence projects for FY08.

  1. Oregon – Deschutes County Health Department, Bend, Oregon

    This project will allow Deschutes County Health Department to implement a system to enable all providers in its clinics to appropriately screen for and address intimate partner violence. As a part of the project, a screening policy, screening tools, and documentation forms will be developed and 80 staff will be trained to recognize and address signs of violence. Deschutes County Health Department serves approximately 10,000 clients each year. Victims of violence identified through these screenings will be referred to a local social service agency.

  2. Washington – Community Health Care, Tacoma, Washington

    This funding will allow 8 clinic staff to receive domestic violence victims' services training through the Pierce County YWCA. These staff members will then return to their clinics and provide in-house training to other clinic staff. The goal is to increase staff recognition of the signs of domestic violence and increase the number of appropriate interventions and referrals.

  3. Washington – Community Partnership Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Western Washington

    This partnership is a group of hospitals, local health departments, the state health department, and other community based organizations that work to increase awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault. Region X has participated in this group for a number years. The group has recently recognized the increasing need for education of health care providers in screening and addressing violence against women. In order to address this need, the group will be planning and hosting a workshop for providers. Region X will support the event with funds towards facility rental and speaker fees.

Content last updated September 12, 2008.

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