News 2023: College of Nursing & Health Sciences to present online forum on sex trafficking and domestic violence on February 28
College of Nursing & Health Sciences to present online forum on sex trafficking and domestic violence on February 28

Event designed to prepare future nurses and health care workers and to share information with the community

Campus quad

According to national statistics on domestic violence, one in seven women and one in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner. On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

Since its inception in 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has identified nearly 165,000 victims. In 2021 alone, more than 13,000 signals were received from victims or survivors of human trafficking.

Clearly, both domestic violence and human trafficking are growing in the United States with cases showing up at local hospitals. UMass Dartmouth nursing students have encountered victims of both domestic violence and human trafficking and have many questions about how to approach and treat victims, according to Clinical Instructor Natasha Chen.

On Tuesday, February 28, from 10 am-2:30 pm, the College of Nursing & Health Sciences is hosting a public online forum, “Breaking the Silence . . . because it is Happening Now,” in the Main Auditorium. The symposium is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. Email Natasha Chen for the Zoom link. No advance registration is required.

Representatives from local and state agencies will lead presentations 

The schedule follows and will include time for questions and answers:

10 am-12 pm: Sex Trafficking presented by Special Agent John Heaton of Boston’s Homeland Security Investigation Office

12:30-1:30 pm: Sexual Assault Advocacy, presented by UMassD alumna Victoria DaPointe, BSN, RN, SANE, Southeast Regional SANE Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Health

1:30-2:20 pm: Domestic Violence presented by Hassan Souto, LSW, manager of education and outreach at the Women’s Center of New Bedford

“The seminar is designed to complement the community nursing goals,” said Chen, who organized the event. “The students will become, if they are not already, key informants to municipal, state, and federal agencies. Nurses are not law enforcement, but we need to partner with agencies in our community.

“My students have seen the result of human trafficking when meeting clients at the soup kitchen and in their clinicals in New Bedford and had questions,” Chen said. “For many of them, they were appalled. It was an eye-opening experience as we talked through the answers.”

As for domestic violence, Chen said nursing students need increased awareness as the potential for harm exists among many vulnerable populations – the elderly, children, runaways, and those with mental illness.

“How do we become aware? How do we advocate? How do I pull my patient out of this situation without incurring further risk? They need to learn how to recognize signs and approach the patient. The goal of the forum is not to fill a niche,” Chen added, “but to increase awareness and share knowledge, not only with students, but with the community as well.”