Langhorne, PA (Sept. 7, 2010)– Interim results based on data collected by Polaris Health Directions in partnership with the Bexar County Family Justice Center illustrate the significant impact emotional and physical domestic violence has on the mental health of abused women, the need to identify and address these conditions and the difference treatment can make.
Bexar County Family Justice Center, based in San Antonio, Texas, has used Polaris-DV (domestic violence), an automated behavioral health outcomes system, for the past two years to support service planning and to identify mental health issues, as well as strengths. The Family Justice Center houses a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who work together to provide a wide range of coordinated services from crisis response to long-term care for victims of family violence.
Among the women at the Family Justice Center who took the Polaris-DV behavioral health assessment at intake, 69 percent showed serious signs of depression and 59 percent exhibited major symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“What these results say is that many women are suffering from the significant emotional impact of domestic violence, but with effective treatment that focuses on addressing the underlying schema associated with abuse many of these women will get better and lead productive lives,” said Linda Toche-Manley, Ph.D., vice president of Polaris, a national leader in behavioral health outcomes solutions.
Despite the pervasive impact of psychological abuse and control on these women Polaris’s data show that, on average, 73 percent of the women who received services showed improvement in depression scores and 79 percent saw improvement in symptoms associated with PTSD.
Yet when clients come to the Family Justice Center, they often do not wish to see a counselor, said Meera Ballal, executive director of the center. But with Polaris-DV, clients begin to better understand their circumstances and the services they need to get better.
“The Polaris survey is a systematic reality check for clients and the Family Justice Center,” Ballal said.
One client, after 90 days of receiving services, shared that each time she takes the assessment it opens her eyes to the help she still needs: “Taking the survey makes me realize that I have not done enough to better my situation, and I need to do something about it,” the client said.
Polaris-DV can be taken online, and protects the woman’s identity, while still allowing for the data to be accessible for case planning. The system also offers online training modules to guide medical and social workers as they seek to understand the impact of abuse on women’s decision-making and to support the women in their care.
The project described was supported by Award Number HD054079 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) or the National Institutes of Health.
About the Bexar County Family Justice Center
The Bexar County Family Justice Center has more than forty on and off site partners who provide comprehensive services in the areas of law enforcement and prosecution, protective orders, employment and educational assistance, counseling, civil legal services, child therapy, health care, military liaison services, food and housing assistance, crisis intervention, child care, financial stabilization, life coaching, professional clothing assistance and emergency shelter. Each client has the ability to see any and all service providers at no charge. The Family Justice Center serves more than 4,000 families a year. All partners work together to fulfill the mission of assisting victims of domestic violence in their journey from survivor to thriver!