Domestic violence is rarely thought of as a public health issue, yet it has a massive impact on the health care system, accounting, for instance, for more than a third of all women seeking emergency treatment from U.S. hospitals. Understanding the phenomenon and seeking ways to reduce its incidence were among the topics explored at the third annual Domestic Violence Seminar Series, held this spring by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. The series is part of the Pew Urban Health Program, a research and teaching collaboration among students and faculty from the schools of medicine, public health and nursing.

Addressing an audience of Yale and New Haven community members, the three principal speakers focused on different aspects of the issue of domestic violence. Sujata Warrier, Ph.D., director of the New York City Program of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, spoke about ways to assist victims from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. Donna Edward, J.D., executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, discussed new federal legislation aimed at curbing violence against women. Yolanda Haywood, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University Medical Center, who treats domestic violence victims, was herself in an abusive relationship. By recounting the struggles she faced in leaving that violent situation, she sought to provide attendees with a clearer understanding of the complex motivations that underlie domestic violence.