SHQ has long standing expertise as a leading specialist provider of sexual and reproductive health and relationships wellbeing clinical services, education, and training in WA. We recognise the impacts of family domestic violence (FDV), which include intimate partner violence (IPV) and reproductive coercion (RC) on women’s health and safety.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a term describing the pattern of abusive, coercive, or controlling behaviours experienced by someone in an intimate relationship. IPV disproportionately affects women in Australia. Women are nearly three times more likely to experience violence from an intimate partner, and almost four times more likely than men to end up in the hospital after an assault from a partner or spouse.
Reproductive coercion (RC) is when someone’s reproductive health is controlled by their partner. It is a serious public health issue which sadly goes unnoticed by many health care providers and goes unrecognised by the women who face it. RC can refer to many behaviours, including:
- contraceptives being sabotaged so they won’t work
- threats or use of physical violence if a contraceptive is requested,
- emotional blackmail around sex, pregnancy, and termination,
- controlling one’s freedom to seek help without the presence of the partner,
- and sexual assault.
In 2018, SHQ developed and implemented an innovative IPV/RC screening program, including the development of a consumer and clinician endorsed screening tool. This screening tool identifies clients who may be experiencing IPV and/or RC. This has provided further insight into its prevalence, and how we may better assist or refer clients that are identified during screening.
Building upon this screening program, we are taking the next step with our Safe to Tell Project.
This new project will see the implementation of IPV/RC screening and support programs into community-based services accessed by women.
SHQ is well placed as a sexual health provider to have conversations with clients about IPV and RC and is excited to partner with community and primary health.
The project will increase the capacity of the health workforce in metro Western Australia, to identify and support women with experiences of violence and coercion and ensure that more women who are at risk are identified and can access support in their communities. This project also recognises the diversity of women – all of whom are included in the aims of the project. Safe to Tell is a project that aims to include cis women, trans women, and nonbinary folks – we know that care that is not inclusive will only perpetuate health inequity for marginalised members of our community.
We are so thankful for the invaluable input and care that our community and staff have given to our past projects, and we are excited to utilise it to support our community. Together, we can continue to work through the barriers that prevent vital screening from happening and create better supports and referral systems for the health workforce to identify those who need help.
If you are interested in staying updated on the Safe to Tell Project as it evolves, sign up to the SHQ Review, and you will receive monthly updates on SHQ projects.