The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) firmly believes that violence against women (VAW) is never acceptable. Violence and abuse affect women from all kinds of backgrounds and of all ages every day. No matter where, when, or how violence and abuse occur, it is always the abuser’s fault. It is never the victim’s fault. This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, OWH reiterates its commitment to raising awareness about VAW, the role of health care providers, and health insurance coverage. Domestic and interpersonal violence can have serious effects on physical and mental health, even long after the abuse stops. Women and adolescents who are abused are more likely to suffer from headaches, chronic pain, and sleep issues, and violence can lead to long-term health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and cancer. OWH wants you to know:
- Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship purposely hurts another person physically or emotionally. Domestic violence is also called intimate partner violence or interpersonal violence because it often is caused by a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend. Women also can be abusers and abuse can occur whether or not people live under the same roof.
- People of all races, education levels, and ages experience domestic abuse.
If you need help, your health care provider can perform screenings and brief counseling services, at no cost to you. Your health care provider can also refer you to other organizations and providers who can help you.
Domestic violence can no longer be considered a pre-existing condition by health insurers. You can talk openly with your health care provider about your experiences without the fear of losing your coverage.
- Survivors of domestic violence or spousal abandonment can use a permanent special enrollment period to enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period. This special enrollment period allows survivors to enroll separately from their abuser/abandoner, which may help them regain control of their medical lives. Dependents may qualify for coverage, too. Survivors no longer need to worry about being without health coverage, removing a possible barrier to leaving their abuser.
- There are ways to help a friend who is being abused. If you or someone is being abused, you can get help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TDD).
To learn more about domestic violence and available resources to get help, visit the Office on Women’s Health website.