Domestic Violence Coordinator Honored

Yvonne Dawkins, RN, FNE A/P, MedStar St. Mary’s domestic violence and sex assault program coordinator, was recently presented the 2015 Corporate Friendship Award by the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy. The annual award honors a team player in the fight to end domestic violence.

November 16, 2015

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital treats an average of five victims of domestic violence each week. Approximately five of those victims are screened for high danger situations each month. Many are familiar with the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' “The same holds true to end domestic violence,” said Yvonne. “One person can't do it all, but together, we can reduce domestic violence.”  

Yvonne Dawkins, RN, FNE A/P, MedStar St. Mary’s domestic violence and sex assault program coordinator, was recently presented the 2015 Corporate Friendship Award by the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy. The annual award honors a team player in the fight to end domestic violence.

MedStar St. Mary’s recently joined the center’s multidisciplinary team which includes law enforcement, legal counsel, the Department of Social Services, Walden Sierra, Inc., the Board of Education, Commission for Women and Parole and Probation, among others. Yvonne became MedStar St. Mary’s domestic violence program coordinator in May 2014. She actively participates in the Family Violence Coordinating Council, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the Maryland Healthcare Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She collaborates with the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy team members and community organizations to spread the word that domestic violence is a problem, but there are resources available. 

 “As a community, we can work together to create a culture where domestic violence is not tolerated.  A place where abusers are held accountable and victims are empowered to become survivors,” said Yvonne.

Domestic Violence by the Numbers

When it comes to domestic violence, MedStar St. Mary’s is one of only 10 Maryland hospitals with a domestic violence program, and one of only a few using the Lethality Assessment Protocol, a domestic violence intervention process.

  • 225* victims of domestic violence in 2015
  • 62 percent were Caucasian
  • 28 percent had a prior history of domestic violence
  • 11 percent said their abuse was increasing in severity

*Treated as of early November 2015

About Our Domestic Violence Program

MedStar St. Mary's grant-funded Domestic Violence (DV) Program educates and trains hospital associates to identify victims and refer them to collaborating agencies, has identified more than 150 victims providing them with information to create a better life. The program, which began in January 2014, is geared toward reducing assaults and providing greater protection for victims. “We want victims to know it’s not their fault, they’re not alone and we’re here for them,” Yvonne said.

MedStar St. Mary’s clinicians continue be educated through trainings targeted for their positions teaching how to screen patients for DV, she said. “Our goal is to train the whole staff in domestic violence awareness.” 

The hospital collaborated with the Department of Social Services, law enforcement, state’s attorney’s office, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Patuxent Naval Air Station, and nonprofits Walden Sierra, Inc. and Three Oaks Center connecting victims to all avenues of assistance. Walden offers counseling services for both the victim and the abuser and Three Oaks Center can provide a victim with housing assistance.

Walden’s Executive Director Kathleen O’Brien, who advocated for a hospital-based DV program, said identifying victims in the hospital was the missing link to both saving lives and improving the victim’s quality of life. “It creates a comprehensive safety net for victims,” she said. The more the community partners to help identify the victims and refer them to services, the safer and healthier the victims will be, Kathleen said.  Victims need to know their options and realize that they may not need to make life-changing decisions right away, she added.

Program records show that the hospital identified 162 victims in the program’s first six months.  When a DV victim is identified, they are given information on what choices they have.  The majority of the victims agreed to seek some form of assistance, whether counseling, social services, or legal protection. 

Lanny Lancaster, executive director of Three Oaks Center, said that the high reporting numbers show that the program has been a valuable undertaking. The program’s training has developed a system with protocols and processes that teach how to identify domestic violence, and connect the victims with resources in the community. “It’s making a significant impact on their (victim) circumstances and making a difference in their lives,” Lanny said.

If you or a loved one has suffered or suspected to have suffered from domestic abuse, contact us today. 

Yvonne Dawkins, RN, FNE-A/P
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program Coordinator
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital
25500 Point Lookout Road
Leonardtown, MD 20650
240-434-7496
[email protected]