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Holidays, family gatherings bring on additional stress for some

The biggest holidays of the year are approaching which means more parties and social gatherings that can lead to increased reports of rape and sexual assault.

Statistics suggest that reports of domestic violence and sex crimes go up this time of year. The joy of the holiday season is often overshadowed for victims of domestic violence. If alcohol or drugs are involved in the relationship, the risk of violence in the home increases substantially. If a family has a history of domestic violence try to plan ahead for safety should hostility or anger escalate in the home.

“The holidays can also be a difficult time for sexual assault victims. Many of them were abused by close friends or family members,” says Linda Kelly, RN, FNE-A, SANE-A, clinical program manager for the Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s (GBMC) SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Program. “It's a good idea for sexual assault victims to find healthy ways to manage their stress such as exercising or sharing their feelings with someone they trust.”

According to the American Medical Association, sexual assault continues to represent the most rapidly growing violent crime in America, claiming a victim every 45 seconds. Because many of these attacks occurring daily go unreported and unrecognized, sexual assault can be considered a “silent-violent epidemic” in the United States today.

At SAFE, Kelly and her colleagues work with hundreds of victims of rape and sexual assault each year. As a service to the victims of sexual assault in Baltimore County, the SAFE Program at GBMC has established a comprehensive program in conjunction with the Baltimore County Police Department, the Baltimore County State Attorney's office, local universities and sexual assault counseling providers to ensure victim/patients are treated compassionately and respectfully.

“Our program is committed to providing community outreach and educational programs about safe dating and recognizing and dealing with violence in a relationship,” added Kelly. “We believe that healing is possible and that each person is able to find a pathway to peace. We also believe in a community free from sexual violence.”

Kelly would like to remind the public that in order to increase the likelihood of having a fun-filled, safe holiday season, if you choose to consume alcohol please do so responsibly and that the 24- hour Baltimore County Domestic Violence Hotline, 410-828-6390, can be a helpful resource for safety planning if needed.

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Related Website:
The SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Program at GBMC
http://www.gbmc.org/body.cfm?id=130

ABOUT GBMC
GBMC HealthCare includes Greater Baltimore Medical Center, a 255-inpatient bed acute care not-for-profit hospital which opened in 1965; Greater Baltimore Medical Associates, a group of more than 40 multi-specialty physician practices on the hospital’s Towson campus and in off-campus locations across the region; Greater Baltimore Health Alliance, a network of employed and community-based clinician partners working collaboratively to provide better health and better care at a lower cost, Gilchrist Hospice Care, Maryland’s largest hospice organization offering in-home care, a 34-bed inpatient center on the GBMC Towson campus and a 10-bed inpatient center in Howard County; and the GBMC Foundation, which raises funds to support the organization’s mission. For more information, visit www.gbmc.org

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