Face To Face

Spotlight on: Domestic Violence

FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project – Healing on the Outside and the Inside

Domestic or intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. Over 5 million women are affected by domestic violence in this country each year; every nine seconds, another woman is battered. And domestic violence cuts across gender lines. About 22 percent of women and 7 percent of men experience physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lives, according to a survey by the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center.

While many of the injuries are emotional and invisible to the naked eye, some are physical — injuries like bruises, broken bones, cigarette burns and knife wounds — and make moving on difficult. Three-quarters of these injuries occur on the head, face and neck, and often involve extensive, expensive surgeries such as reconstructive rhinoplasty.

For individuals who bear the physical scars of abuse, starting over can be especially trying. Each time they look in the mirror or meet someone new, they are reminded once again of the pain they have been through.

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence first hand, there is help available.

Domestic Violence: Action Plan

The first step is to get out of the abusive relationship. Tell someone you trust what is going on. This person can be a relative, friend, clergy member, physician or therapist. If danger is imminent, dial 911. Groups such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), your state domestic violence coalition, and/or a local domestic violence agency can help you get out of the relationship and on the road to healing.

The road to recovery after abuse is both an emotional and physical process. Facial plastic surgeons across the country are doing their part to help heal the scars of domestic and intimate partner violence.

"Help is out there," says American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) President Jonathan Sykes, MD, the director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of California at Davis Medical Center. "You don't have to live in fear. There are programs to help you physically, emotionally and financially."

Through FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project, a team of about 275 facial plastic surgeons provide free consultation and surgery to people who have been injured as a result of domestic violence. The FACE TO FACE surgeons work with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an umbrella group representing many shelters in this country, to identify individuals in need of their assistance. FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project is one of the components of the Educational and Research Foundation for the AAFPRS.

"The reconstructive surgery is often the completing task in moving past the violence," says Sykes. "It takes them to the next level of putting the incident behind them, and will help soften or lessen their burden."

The surgery typically takes place at least a year after the individual has gotten out of the abusive situation. "We don't want ongoing physical and psychological trauma when we perform the reconstructive surgery," he explains.

So far, more than 1,600 people affected by domestic violence have received free reconstructive surgery by surgeons participating in FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project.

To donate to FACE TO FACE: The National Domestic Violence Project, click here.

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    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

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    (332) 239-6439

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    Cosmetic Surgery Associates of New York

    465 Columbus Avenue
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    Min S. Ahn MD

    The Aesthetic Wellness Center
    2 Connector Road, #2C
    Westborough, MA 01581