UPICares Partners with H.E.R. Shelter in Norfolk

By Jessica Bisch
Aug. 3, 2018

Expanding the UPICares initiative, UPIC Health is working with a new partner, H.E.R (Help and Emergency Response) Inc., a non-profit shelter that assists victims of domestic and relationship violence, stalking, and human trafficking.  The partnership will be organized out of UPIC’s Norfolk, Va. center as H.E.R. operates two facilities in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Va.

As UPIC has learned through processing more than 120,000 patient calls per month, those in need of reproductive health support often are victims of the very issues plaguing H.E.R. Shelter clients.  Thus, in an effort to engender empathy and understanding among our employees, UPIC partners with several non-profits in this arena.

“We believe all adults and children are entitled to a violence-free life in a stable environment.”
H.E.R. Shelter, Inc.

Donations collected by UPIC for children in the H.E.R. Shelter Program

UPICares kicked off the partnership with H.E.R. by collecting for the annual Christmas in July Donation Campaign. Donations included toys, hygiene items, school and art supplies, among others things — all to be donated to the H.E.R. Shelter Children’s Program.

“Showing love and support to these children when circumstances such as domestic abuse arise, provides a sense of community for these mothers and families,” said Nikita Crawford, UPIC Senior Lead of Operations in the Norfolk Center. “Participating in this donation drive is UPIC’s way of saying we care about our communities and sometimes it takes a village to raise healthy, happy children.”

H.E.R. is certified by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and participates in a 24-hour emergency hotline, shelter, and other programs to empower individuals, break the cycle of abuse, and help clients sustain healthy and productive lives.

The CDC  reports that one in four women and one in nine men have experienced intimate partner violence; which can include physical, sexual, or stalking incidents resulting in a negative impact on their health and lives.  Women experiencing abuse also can have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Almost three-quarters of all murder-suicides are intimate partner related, and 94% of these victims are female according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  Up to 50% of  transgender people will experience will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

The team participated in an ugly Christmas sweater contest to show their support for the drive.

The Christmas in July Donation Drive culminated in an event at the Greenbrier Country Club in Chesapeake, Va., on July 25. It included a guest speaker who is a survivor of domestic violence, as well as a meet and greet with local businesses in the Hampton Roads area.

Dinner and cupcakes were provided by Sweet Haven Bakery, a workforce program developed by H.E.R. Workforce participants are expected to attend all employment and life skills classes and complete a certain number of kitchen hours to receive a food handler’s license. They also learn about interviewing, resume writing and receive references for future job applications.  Finding gainful employment often is the first step to empowerment for disenfranchised and abused women.

The Cycle of Abuse
In conjunction with the H.E.R. partnership, UPIC launched its quarterly Guest Speaker Series with H.E.R.’s Erika Compliment who discussed the cycle of abuse many clients are trying to break.

According to the Blue Campaign, which provides a free victim support phone line, intimate partner violence is often experienced in three stages. The first being increasing anger and blaming, followed by a verbal or physical attack, and finally, the calm stage when the abuser minimizes, apologizes, or denies that they did anything wrong.

Instances of violent physical and sexual abuse also can be coupled with factors such as coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimization, denial, blaming, weaponizing children, economic abuse, and misogyny. These factors of abuse are less easily defined, but add to the severity and length of the overall pattern of abuse, Compliment said.

“92% of women discuss abuse as one of their top mental health concerns, even if they have never been abused,” says Erika Compliment of H.E.R.

Guest Speaker Erika Compliment from H.E.R. with UPIC team members Jessica Bisch and Nikita Crawford.

Given the unique nature of every survivor’s story, Compliment put a personal spin on her speech.  Several UPIC employees also come from a background of abuse, making our work and partnerships with organizations such as H.E.R., that much more important and meaningful to us.  The discussion with Compliment was fulfilling and educational for all who attended.

Participating in the donation drive and speaker series allows UPIC to align with our partners in the common goal of supporting and empowering women.

Abuse happens across the board and does not depend on factors such as socioeconomic status or gender identity.  If you or a loved one find themselves in an emergency, call the police. If safe, reach out to the H.E.R., Inc. Hotline for assistance: 757-251-0144 or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1−800−799−7233.  Among the statistics and information shared, Erika offered several resources including a phone number to call should you suspect human trafficking; 1-866-347-2423, and one for victim support: 1-888-373-7888, complimentary of the Blue Campaign.

Author Jessica Bish is a Patient Care Coordinator at UPIC Health. Jessica is involved in many of the volunteer endeavors pursued by UPICares and enjoys participating in our monthly spirit weeks. Nikita Crawford contributed to this story. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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