To effectively combat epidemic rates of domestic violence in the U.S., an integrated response system and services infrastructure is required.
Behavioral and Physical Health Care
- Victims of intimate partner violence in all 67 PA counties should have access to IPV services in health care settings. This includes trauma-informed care.
- Health care providers should routinely assess for IPV, including increased screening at pediatric emergency centers of adults who seek treatment for their children, to determine whether adults have experienced IPV. IPV victims are more likely to seek medical care for their children than they are for themselves.
- Judges, court personnel, and mental health professionals should be educated about domestic violence and stalking and the importance of addressing victim and child safety in protection from abuse (PFA) and custody determinations.
- Access to legal assistance for victims of intimate partner violence should be increased.
- PA must increase and expand court-sponsored assistance for those representing themselves (“pro se litigants”), beyond the assistance courts may currently provide at intake.
- The Pennsylvania State Police should include domestic violence and stalking education in its annual training. Currently, this training is not required. Better training on these issues sensitizes officers to the obstacles IPV and stalking victims face, helping them respond appropriately, so as to protect victims and increase the safety of the community. Police response to IPV must be improved and myths and biases that deter appropriate police response must be eliminated.
- Both the U.S. government and the Pennsylvania state government should enact legislation to prohibit the eviction from or denial of public housing based on a victim’s history of domestic violence.
- Pennsylvania should increase funding for IPV services.
- The availability, early use, and quality of batterer treatment programs should be expanded and improved. Research should be pursued to determine which models are most effective to reduce battering.
- Pennsylvania should institute statewide domestic violence data collection. PA does not currently collect data on number of incidences and medical visits related to domestic violence.
- Pennsylvania should enact legislation to provide paid leave for victims of IPV and stalking and mandate other employer protections in the workplace.
- PA should adopt coordinated local response approaches to IPV statewide. This means the integration of law enforcement, advocates, health care providers, social services, employers and schools. This system will work better and faster for victims.