Violence and abuse have been viewed predominately as criminal justice or social welfare issues with a focus on stopping crime, prosecuting criminals and treating the victims’ immediate physical wounds. Criminal justice systems, however, are not designed to address the full spectrum of health care needs of victims of violence and abuse. Subtle forms of violence and abuse such as verbal abuse and neglect are rarely recognized or deemed serious enough to be classified as criminal behavior. Still, these less obvious cases of abuse require prevention and contribute to serious health problems, which warrant professional treatment.

Without formal training, health care professionals often lack knowledge and understanding about the issues surrounding violence and abuse, and are inexperienced in recognizing related physical and emotional health symptoms. Instead, health problems resulting from abuse are often attributed to unrelated factors — or worse yet, to nothing at all

For these reasons, AVA is creating dialogue, raising awareness and promoting changes in the way the issues of violence and abuse are addressed in health professional education and its academic communities.

AVA intends to enhance the infrastructure of health care education and highlight the pivotal role health care professionals play in addressing these critical issues, ultimately reframing the limited view of violence and abuse into one that establishes them as critical health care issues.