Intimate Partner Violence Awareness: An SPT’s Passion for Pelvic Health
I am passionate about the field of pelvic health physical therapy because I want to empower women affected by intimate partner violence (IPV), which includes physical assault, sexual assault, and emotional abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women will experience IPV at some point in her life. These numbers have risen dramatically since the pandemic began, and with the difficulty for many to access high- quality healthcare, this crisis is projected to become even worse.
Physical therapists can and should play a role in identifying and addressing IPV, as it can lead to many types of injuries and chronic pain. Research also shows that injuries related to IPV account for a significant number of physical therapy(PT) visits, even more so than those made to the emergency room or physicians’ offices. Physical therapists see patients more frequently and for longer durations than other providers, therefore they may have a greater opportunity to address IPV. Pelvic health physical therapists play an even more important role, as research has found a significant correlation between IPV and pelvic dysfunction. I take pride in the opportunity to join the pelvic health physical therapy field where I can be a leader in practicing trauma-informed care and shared decision making.
As a pelvic health PT, I will strive to create a safe space for my patients. From personal experience, I know the healthcare system can be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing. Providers, often limited by administrative and systemic burdens, are challenged to provide adequate opportunities to facilitate patient autonomy in any decision-making process. In my experience, not knowing how to advocate for myself led to many misdiagnoses, unnecessary medications, and chronic pain that diminished my quality of life and changed my personality. I promised myself before beginning physical therapy school that I would always treat my patients as people first and empower them to be their own advocates.
I am very grateful to the Academy of Pelvic Health (APHPT) for their support in my pelvic health physical therapy journey. I was not able to receive this level of education through my DPT program, as we only receive a few days of introductory pelvic health lectures. The support of the Academy has allowed me to attain a full-time pelvic health PT clinical prior to my graduation. I am excited to take my new knowledge and skills into the clinic and continue my education by completing my Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Health Physical Therapy (CAPP-Pelvic) after graduation. I know this course will allow me to make a profound impact on my community, as there is a great need for pelvic health physical therapists in my area. My dream is to eventually open my own practice to provide the highest quality of care to this underserved patient population. Thank you APTA Pelvic Health!
Ballan, M. S., & Freyer, M. (2021). Addressing intimate partner violence with female patients
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Boserup, B., McKenney, M., & Elkbuli, A. (2020). Alarming trends in US domestic violence
during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American journal of emergency medicine, 38(12),
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2022, March 24). Statistics.
Author: Anonymous 2022 Scholarship Recipient