Domestic Violence

Ending Domestic Violence for a Healthier Community

Domestic violence is an all-too-common public health issue that affects millions of individuals and families worldwide. Defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors within an intimate relationship, domestic violence includes physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse.

It not only poses physical and psychological harm, but also has far-reaching impacts on the overall health and well-being of victims, families, and communities. Fear and financial dependence prevent most victims from seeking help. As a result, injuries go untreated, stress builds up, mental health worsens, and the relationship can end in death by either homicide or suicide.

Defining Domestic Violence

The United States Surgeon General first listed violence as a public health priority in 1979.

Intimate Partner Violence, or IPV, can consist of:

  • Physical abuse — This includes hitting, slapping, punching, and any form of physical harm. Bruises, broken bones, and unexplained injuries may be a warning sign.

  • Emotional abuse — This can come in the form of insults, humiliation, threats, and constant criticism. Victims often experience anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

  • Sexual abuse — Unwanted sexual advances, coercion, or non-consensual sexual acts fall under this category. Signs may include unexplained sexually transmitted infections or injuries.

  • Economic abuse — Controlling a victim's finances, restricting access to resources, and preventing them from holding a job are common tactics. Victims may be financially dependent on their abuser.

  • Psychological abuse — Manipulation, gaslighting, and mind games can have a profound impact on a victim's mental health. They may doubt their own reality or feel trapped.

IPV by the Numbers

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, there are millions of victims in the U.S. each year.

Some findings include:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men — report experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner.

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men — have experienced violent sexual contact by an intimate partner.

  • 14% of women and 5% of men — report having been stalked by an intimate partner.

  • 61 million women and 53 million men — experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The Consequences

Survivors of IPV face a host of potential health issues with physical injuries being most common. About 75% of women and 48% of men who survive IPV experience some physical injury related to their abuse. Also, crime statistics show that one in five homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. More than half of all female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by current or past male partners.

IPV survivors are also at risk for other chronic conditions affecting the:

Survivors can suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They face a higher risk for addictive behaviors like smoking, binge drinking, and risky sexual activity. People from marginalized groups like LGBTQ+ or racial and ethnic minorities are at higher risk for worse consequences.

Recognizing Domestic Violence

Sometimes it’s hard to speak up for someone you think is being abused. We tend to make excuses for why things are a certain way, or we worry we’ll be told to, “mind our own business.” But those being abused can’t or won’t always ask for help. By saying something, you could ultimately save their life.

Abusers often demonstrate the following:

  • A bad temper
  • Abuse of other family members, children, or pets
  • Accusations that the victim is flirting or having an affair
  • Antiquated beliefs about gender roles in relationships
  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
  • Controlling all finances
  • Controlling what the victim wears or how they act
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Demeaning the victim publicly or privately
  • Embarrassing the victim in front of others
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Extremely controlling behavior
  • Forced sex
  • Harassing the victim at work
  • Possessiveness
  • Sabotaging birth control methods
  • Sabotaging the victim’s ability to work or attend school
  • Unpredictability
  • Verbal abuse

If you think someone is being abused, you should:

  • Never judge them
  • Avoid telling them they need to leave (they know that)
  • Not badmouth the abuser
  • Act as a trustworthy friend to the victim
  • Tell them why you’re worried and be specific
  • Listen
  • Offer help
  • Respect their choices
  • Don’t tell them what they should do

Remember, as much as you want to help them, you’re not in their shoes. Respect the complexity of the situation but stay anchored as an ally and a voice of reason. 

We’re Here for You

AltaMed is available to help you, or others, find resources to end an abusive relationship. Our Behavioral Health Services are staffed with licensed clinical social workers who speak English and Spanish and are trained to help you through whatever life puts in your way. You don’t have to go through it alone. To learn more, call (855) 425-1777.

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Birth Control Options Available to You

Now that the Supreme Court has removed women’s constitutional right to abortion, having access to other methods of birth control is more essential than ever.

Thankfully, individuals and couples who want to plan their families and take control of their reproductive health have many options available when it comes to contraception, each with its own advantages and considerations.

Your Options

According to Planned Parenthood, there are 18 unique options for preventing pregnancy. Most are for women but there are a few for men, and they include everything from abstinence to surgery. You should choose the best one for you based on effectiveness, frequency, cost, and whether you need your health care provider to prescribe it.

Barrier Methods

These include male and female condoms, cervical caps, contraceptive sponges, and diaphragms.

  • Condoms — Male condoms are usually made of latex and go over the penis. They capture the man’s ejaculation making them 87% effective. They also protect against sexually transmitted infections. Female condoms cover the inside of the vagina and work the same way as a male condom. They are 79% effective. That increases when used with other forms of birth control. Use a new condom every time you have sex.  
  • Cervical cap — It must be inserted deep into the vagina to cover the cervix, blocking access to the egg. It is up to 86% effective when used with spermicide. You need a prescription, and they can cost up to $90. Use a new one each time.
  • Diaphragm — You can use your diaphragm multiple times as long as you take care of it, and there are no holes or tears. It must be used with spermicide. Apply the spermicide no more than two hours before sex. You can keep your diaphragm in for up to six hours. Just add more spermicide. You need a prescription. They are 83% effective.
  • Sponge — It fits against the cervix to block sperms’ access to the egg. It also has spermicide. Spongesare between 78% and 86% effective. Put one in each time before sex.

Short-acting Hormonal Methods

These include birth control pills, patches, injections, and the vaginal ring. People who can become pregnant have to use these daily, monthly, or every three months.

  • The pill — There are two kinds: combination pills that have estrogen and progestin; and progestin-only pills. The combination pills are the most common. Taken daily, they prevent ovulation so there is no egg to fertilize. It does NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and you will need a prescription.
  • The patch — It sends estrogen and progestin through the skin to stop ovulation when used on schedule. It must be changed weekly on the same day to be up to 93% effective. You need a prescription.
  • The ring — There are two brands but they essentially work the same way: put them inside the vagina and remove them monthly. One brand you replace monthly, the other you reinsert each month for up to a year. Both require a prescription. When used properly they are up to 93% effective.
  • The shot — It’s an injection of Depo-Provera taken every three months. It is 96% effective if taken on time, and contains progestin and prevents ovulation.

Long-lasting Hormone Devices

There are some longer-term options that still leave the door open for children but require less calendar watching. These birth control methods for people who can become pregnant include intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants.

  • The implant — You have it inserted in your arm and it releases hormones that stop you from ovulating. It’s about the size of a matchstick and you don’t have to think about it for five years. You can have your doctor remove it if you decide you want to get pregnant. It is 99% effective.
  • The IUD — That stands for intrauterine device. There are two types: copper and hormonal. The IUD goes into the uterus and stops sperm from going past either with hormones or copper. Copper IUDs are sometimes used as an alternative to the morning-after pill. IUDs are effective birth control for eight to 12 years.

Other Methods

Let’s start with the extreme methods of sterilization. There is tubal ligation for women and a vasectomy for men. Women have their fallopian tubes cut to prevent eggs from traveling to the uterus. Men have their vas deferens cut, preventing sperm from entering their semen so there will be no sperm when they ejaculate during intercourse.

The fertility awareness method is a way to track signs of fertility. You can combine several methods like tracking your temperature, checking your vaginal discharge, and charting your menstrual cycle to determine when you’re ovulating and avoid sexual intercourse during those times.

Some couples practice withdrawing, where the man pulls out of the woman’s vagina before ejaculating. This is only 78% effective as there can still be sperm that slips in right before ejaculation. It is most effective when combined with another form of birth control.

Mothers have used breastfeeding as an extremely effective form of birth control, but it has to be done perfectly to work. The newborn must be fed every four hours during the day and every six hours at night. Following this schedule keeps mom from ovulating – and she can’t get pregnant if she’s not ovulating. This method, called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is 98% effective up to six months after the baby is born.

Finally, there is abstinence. No one can get pregnant if they’re not having sexual intercourse. They could be participating in other forms of sexual activity, but abstaining from intercourse is 100% effective.

Questions and support

AltaMed can answer your questions about birth control, offer counseling, provide pregnancy testing, information on safe sex, STIs and HIV tests and treatment, pap and HPV tests, or anything related to your sexual or reproductive health. We can also connect you with community resources.

Call (888) 499-9303 for more information or to make an appointment.

Police Mass Shootings

How to Talk to Your Child About Mass Shootings

A mass shooting topped the national newscast in March, nearly a year to the day after the country shut down because of COVID-19. Then there was another. And another.

News of mass shootings took a backseat to the pandemic despite there being 610 mass shootings in 2020 according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. It was also a record year for gun violence deaths with nearly 20,000 people killed.

Through May 15 of 2021, there have been 178 mass shootings resulting in 206 deaths. There is no clear definition of a mass shooting other than incidents involving several victims of gun-related violence.

Mass shootings are traumatizing, especially for children and adolescents when safe spaces like schools and churches are the settings. Kids need us to make them feel safe but that’s hard to do when we may not feel safe ourselves.

Streesed Woman in Kitche

Manage Your Distress First

You really want to help your kids cope with news of the latest mass shooting, but you can’t help anyone until you help yourself.

Realize that you are feeling a wide range of emotions and that’s normal. We all deal with trauma differently. Feelings can include anger, fear, grief, numbness, shock, sorrow, and others.

You can help yourself by:

  • Talking about it — Get the support you need from people willing to listen to your concerns. This could be a friend, family member, or a professional.
  • Seeking balance — Remember there is good in the world and grab hold of that. It can help your perspective when things look bleak.
  • Taking breaks — Don’t overexpose yourself to information about what happened. It’s ok to take pauses from consuming images, news, and analysis.
  • Honoring your feelings — You may not be a victim of a traumatic event like a mass shooting, but it affects you. Recognize and respect how it makes you feel.
  • Caring for yourself — If you eat well, exercise, and avoid drugs and alcohol, you will be better able to cope with trauma. Use relaxation techniques like meditation to help you sleep.
  • Being productive — Find some way to help those affected. It can help empower you when so many feel powerless.
Woman Talking With Young Girl

Helping Your Kids

Parents and guardians are the first people kids will turn to when they need to feel safe. It doesn’t matter how old children are. You will always be the person who helps them make sense of the world.

It starts with talking. What you say and how you say it depends on their age. But more than anything, they need to know you’re listening.

You may need to start the conversation. That lets them know you care about how they are coping. Talk when you’re in the car together, at bedtime, or dinner. Listen to them and don’t interrupt. Let them say their piece before you respond. Gently correct any misinformation they have, but don’t put down those with different opinions. Let them know it’s OK to disagree while being respectful. Remind them that schools, churches, and other places they go to always tries to keep them safe. Also remind them that you are there to keep them safe and supported.

Kid Sleeping on Father's Chest

Other Ways to Help

  • Keep home a safe place — It’s where all kids go to feel secure. Keep the outside world and its stressors, outside the home.
  • Watch them — Look out for signs of anxiety, fear, or stress. They may lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping, or lose their concentration. Encourage them to identify what they’re feeling and help them work through those feelings.
  • Take breaks — They may be very curious about what happened and want to know more but know when to turn off the news. Make sure to talk with them about what they have seen, heard, or read.
  • Watch what you say — Not just you, but the other conversations by adults in the house. Your kids are always listening, and if they don’t understand something, they might draw their own conclusions which could make things worse.
  • Check in often — Have conversations to gauge their mood and see how they are coping with the situation. Actively listen.

Professional Help Is Here

AltaMed wants you to know you don’t have to do this alone. Our Behavioral Health teams in Los Angeles and Orange County are staffed with licensed clinical social workers who speak English and Spanish. All are trained to help you cope with life stressors and get you through a rough time.

We offer short-term therapy to help with any challenge and can link you to mental health services if you need long-term therapy, no matter what age.

To learn more about our services, call us today at (855) 425-1777.

Ending Domestic Violence for a Healthier Community