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Task Force on Family Violence
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Report from the MSDC Task Force on Family Violence
Submitted by Kim Bullock, MD, Chair

The Medical Society of the District of Columbia Task Force on Family Violence is a beacon organization in the city for medical and other helping professionals who are working in the field of intentional abuse within families and partnerships. The Task Force was established in1992 and has grown from a small diverse group to a multidisciplinary membership including health caregivers, attorneys, law enforcement officers, community-based advocates, policy and public health experts and survivors. The Task Force has focused on establishing networks and collaborations with both local and national organizations while raising the nation's conscience around family violence issues. The list of group associations has grown exponentially along with the membership. Perhaps the first most important affiliation was Mayor's Commission on Violence Against Women, followed by the DC Superior Court's Domestic Violence Implementation Committee, a.k.a. Coordinating Council, the DC's Domestic Violence and Child Fatality Review Board, US Department of Justice, US Attorney, District of Columbia's Advisory Board. Our newest partner is the Safety Network for Abused Animals and People. National groups include the AMA Advisory Council on Violence and Abuse, now the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse, Futures without Violence, several medical organizations targeting special issues related to the intersection of health, violence and prevention.


The Task Force has been involved in multiple projects, programs and policy initiatives over the years. Offering testimony at legislative hearings, briefings, and participating in high stakes meetings has resulted in the inclusion of family violence as part of the Department of Health Medical State Plan, and greater funding for victim services as part of the annual DC budget. The Task Force has been actively involved in providing written and spoken testimony for DC Council legislative Bills covering child abuse, child fatality, intimate partner violence, housing, employment, and the environment, sex trafficking and sexual assault. At the national level the Task Force has provided advocacy for the Violence Against Women Act from its inception, the International Violence Against Women Act, consideration for the establishment of a National Domestic Violence Registry as well as many others. Members have attended Presidential Summits covering such varied topics as bullying, sexual assault on college campuses.


In the area of education, the Task Force has collaborated in the development of city conferences organized by medical students and practicing physicians over the years, acquiring grants in partnership with community based agencies to develop fact sheets, learning modules, and premiers. Task Force members have been prolific in their editorials and op-eds in print publications such as The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. Members have appeared on TV and in radio syndicated programs on a wide variety of violence-related topics. Task Force members organized the Clinics in Family Practice (2003) first publication covering family and community violence to rave reviews. In addition, members came together and organized the longest running class covering domestic violence at any DC medical school at Georgetown, leading the way for students to develop their own informal peer, classroom and virtual learning experiences. Members further serve as reviewers for the US Department of Health and Human Services (ACYF), American Association of Pediatrics (AAPs) policies, white papers, and procedures related to child abuse, neglect, bullying, and the intersection of "toxic" stress and early neurodevelopment.


Several members have successfully collaborated in the development of award winning grant projects that have made a tremendous difference in residents of the District of Columbia. The George Washington first ever ED-based law student advocacy program for survivor of violence (1996), the Wireless Foundation grant, which helped support the first "one- stop" health/law advocacy program at then Greater South East Hospital, now United Medical Center (2000). Other funded initiatives include the production of several women's and girl’s resource reviews and educational materials with the support of Office of Women's Health (OWH) grants. Expanding into the field of trauma-informed care practices, some physician members have pushed for best practice models and encouraged innovative study programs looking at survivor outcomes and recovery.


The impact of the Task Force lies in the energy, commitment and talent of its members collectively. The diversity of its membership is one of its secret strengths. The result has been a wonderful synergy leading to successful collaborative partnerships and networks resulting in positive individual and community change that liberates survivors and elevates us all.


For information about the Task Force, contact:

Debbie Vargas-Collins,MPH

Program Coordinator, Department of Family Medicine

Georgetown University School of Medicine

Tel: (202) 687-0925 Email: dv222@georgetown.edu

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