Category:Domestic Violence/Abuse/Sexual Assault
We have the highest rate per capita for domestic violence and sexual abuse in the country, which is why we screen for it at every patient encounter. If you see suspicious bruises etc., make an effort to question the patient when they are alone so you can ask how it happened and assess for their safety. Encourage them to talk to Tundra Women’s Coalition, which is our local domestic violence shelter (543-3444).
If violence occurred while children were present, it is mandatory in Alaska to report it. If it occurred in Bethel, report it to Bethel Police Dept. (311). If it occurred in a village, report it to the State Troopers (543-2294). You must also report it to Office of Children Services (OCS 543-1411).
Per Alaska law, a person can choose not to report a domestic assault. As a provider, you must report the assault, even if the patient objects, if it involved a knife, a burn, firearm, strangulation, or if children were witnesses.
If you see a girl 16 years old or younger who has had sex with a partner three years older than her (you will probably discover this on a first prenatal visit), this is also reportable to OCS.
If you suspect child abuse or sexual abuse, use the same reporting system as described above.
In the ED we have a Sexual Abuse Report Team (SART) member who is available to collect evidence and offer support. If you see a patient who has been sexually abused/assaulted that day, or the day before, and they are interested in reporting, you can coordinate with the ED to make that happen. For children with possible abuse, please contact Bethel PD or State Troopers AND OCS.
If you suspect child physical or sexual abuse, use the same reporting system as described above. Please review the pediatric sexual assault guideline and how to proceed.
There is a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) at TWC that organizes the child’s interview, exam etc., to make it as painless as possible for the child. They tape the interview behind a one way mirror to make the child as comfortable as possible.
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