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Understanding Relationship Abuse

October 6, 2020

Understanding Relationship Abuse

People think domestic violence means physical scars, but it can show up in many forms. Emotional or mental abuse is also considered domestic violence.

That’s the message Rashanna Lynch, MD, FAAFP wants to spread for Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October. Dr. Lynch is the Medical Director for Ryan Health | West 97th Street and Mobile Health Center, which serves patients throughout Manhattan.

“We need to make people aware, so they know if those things are happening to them,” Dr. Lynch says. “It’s more than physical. If someone who is supposed to care about you is making you feel vulnerable, that can be classified as abuse.”

During our COVID-19 quarantine period, when people were required to shelter in place, the number of abuse calls to New York’s helplines increased. Victims were trapped at home with their abusers and were unable to get away, or even have the respite of going to school or work.

“Anyone can be a victim,” she explains. “There’s no specific gender that’s vulnerable, or education or income level. Domestic violence can show up unexpectedly.”

Types of Abuse:

  • Psychological and emotional
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial or material
  • Modern slavery (forced labor)
  • Discriminatory
  • Organizational or institutional
  • Neglect or acts of omission
  • Self-neglect

Resources That Can Help

Victims are not always aware of what to do about domestic violence. They may be isolated from family and friends because of the shame they might feel or embarrassed by the stigma of being a victim. That means they don’t reach out for help.

Ryan Health engages in screening questions for a range of issues that might shed light on who a victim of domestic violence may be. At their core, the questions are intended to ensure our patients’ well-being. Our Behavioral Health Integration team works with our primary care providers to support our patients so they are aware of the resources available to them.

Those resources include services at Ryan Health, in addition to a wealth of outlets run by New York City and through care organizations aimed at keeping our community safe. These confidential services are there so that people can get help when they’re ready to receive it.

“People may not be aware that what they’re experiencing is domestic violence,” Dr. Lynch says, “but it comes in many forms and situations.”

Find resources for domestic violence victims near you confidentially on our Here For You resource hub.

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233, TTY 1−800−787−3224, or visit The Hotline. Users of web browser Microsoft Edge will be redirected to Google when clicking the “X” or “Escape” button while on the hotline's website.