L to R: Evelyn Torres, Pathways Advocate; Leena Thomas, Pathways Data Assistant; Kate Lawler, Pathways Director; Quinn Davis, Apna Ghar Counselor and Medical Advocate; and Susan Pieters, Between Friends Adult Education Coordinator.
The month of October marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for reflection as we look back on the success of Swedish’s Violence Prevention Program and forge ahead to the future. Since its inception in 2015, Swedish Hospital’s Violence Prevention Program (VPP) has secured over 2 million dollars in grants and donations with which we have served over 1700 survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assault and trained over 2600 providers and staff to recognize and respond to these forms of harm. We remain grateful to the Swedish Hospital Foundation Board, for without their vision and commitment in providing the initial seed money to establish the program, these milestones would never be realized.
In these turbulent times of COVID-19, Kate Lawler, VPP Director, notes that the increased stresses of daily life have put people who are in unsafe relationships in greater risk. “Calls to domestic violence hotlines have increased sharply; the economic downturn, increased alcohol consumption and mental health concerns coupled with homeschooling children have compounded family stressors.” During the lockdown period from mid-March to late-June, fewer survivors came into the emergency room due to a fear of being infected. However, those who did come showed indicators of escalated violence, such as head injuries and strangulation compared with the same period from last year–an increase of 113%. ” The numbers of domestic violence and sexual assault cases in the emergency department started to increase again after the stay-at-home order ended. Given the 5 years of successfully working with trauma survivors through the VPP program, staff are prepared for this moment and ready to assist survivors with support, resources, information, and the tools to make choices to ensure their safety.
As the program continues to evolve, the Violence Prevention Program has changed its name to more accurately reflect the support that we offer survivors of interpersonal violence. The new name is Pathways: Walking Beside Survivors of Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault. Specifically, the program encompasses:
The name change is explained by Kate Lawler, who describes, that “We wanted to move away from a name that focuses on the harm that is done, and rather, place emphasis on the role that we have in shaping the road ahead. Each person’s path moving forward is different and multi-faceted. Our role is to provide information, options and support as survivors set out on the pathway or pathways that make most sense for them.” The Pathways program is funded by grantor such as 5th/3rd, and the Department of Justice, foundations and the generosity of donors like you. To make a gift to Pathways, please contact please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email Foundation@schosp.org