Authored by: Carlin Hardy and Catie Haddad, RISE Interns
Imagine if you had been severely harmed by the person you loved most. As you process this moment and the possible betrayal, shock, and pain you may be feeling, you are brought to the hospital. The disbelief of the night has begun to cement in your mind, and you are brought to a nurse. However, that nurse is unsure of the specific protocol needed to examine cases of domestic violence, such as yours. The lack of a protocol extends and complicates the already unimaginable night. This reality influenced local SART nurse, Buffy Ramirez, to demand a standardized, trauma-informed medical protocol. The Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Protocol Research Project is an effort to connect with other counties – primarily in California – who have experience working with medical IPV protocols, and to examine how we can use the information gleaned from these partnerships to implement similar standardized procedures in San Luis Obispo. Many IPV survivors have highly nuanced injuries that are consequential, including high rates of intimate partner homicide. The experience of IPV survivors is painful; their examination process should not contribute to this trauma. The purpose to create a standardized and effective examination process – and one that minimizes re-traumatization and maximizes healing – guided the creation of a SLO County medical protocol for IPV survivors.