Open Door Project Streamlines Health Care and Support for Sexual and Domestic Abuse Victims

Apr 18, 2023 | News

One Door Project: CHP Berkshires, Elizabeth Freeman Center Partner to Improve Care and Support for Survivors/Victims of Abuse  

For a victim of sexual or domestic violence, trafficking, or other abuse, seeking help can be a high-risk act. For many, confiding in a medical professional may, at first, feel safer than calling a domestic abuse hotline.    

Health care centers where clinicians are trained in trauma-informed care can be safe and private access points for victims. Research shows that women who talked with a health care clinician about domestic abuse were four times more likely to seek out intervention help, and they were 2.6 times more likely to exit the abusive relationship.   

The research, data, and experience of the Elizabeth Freeman Center (EFC), along with CHP Berkshires’ familiarity with trauma-informed care, has led to a unique partnership called The One Door Project: Collaborative Care for Sexual Trauma Survivors. A grant of $175,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health supports this project.  

CHP Berkshires and EFC have developed protocols for assisting at-risk patients and clients in accessing care and then making a safe and direct connection to EFC counselors and resources. The two organizations have held a series of trainings to share mutually valuable knowledge and insight about caring for sexual trauma survivors.   

“These numbers mean many of our patients have had sexual trauma in their history – whether it was last night or years ago—so our care of patients must reflect this awareness,” said Dawn Kohanski, FNP, associate medical director of CHP Berkshires. “As we provide medical attention and support, we now have a stronger link between CHP and EFC to quickly help our patients get support and safety resources.”    

At EFC, survivors will receive a range of services according to their needs, such as medical appointment accompaniment to legal advocacy for protection orders, safe housing, financial advocacy, and trauma-informed psychoeducational counseling. 

In Berkshire County:  

  • The per capita rate of abuse protection order filings for sexual and domestic violence is 35% higher than the state average, according to FY2022 MA court reports.  
  • Compared with the pre-Covid era, EFC has seen a 262% increase in calls to its Berkshire County hotline.   
  • Immigrant communities, especially undocumented immigrants, are particularly concerned about seeking help for fear of exposing their immigration status. 

“For our community, One Door means that both CHP and EFC speak the same language around sexual abuse, and we share each other’s resources quickly and seamlessly to help people get the immediate help and support they need, whether medical or other support care,” said Janis Broderick, executive director of Elizabeth Freeman Center.  “All you need to do is walk through One Door.” 

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