Charting Course for Domestic Violence Survivors with ‘Speak to INU’

In view of the need to ensure survivors of domestic violence get help and have easy access to necessary services, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team in partnership with the Lagos branch of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria recently launched the ‘Speak to INU’ code scheme, Sunday Ehigiator reports

Analysis of the bi-annual (January- June, 2021) report of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) revealed that at least 60 per cent of survivors of domestic violence sought assistance at their community pharmacies.

Out of this percentage, 50 per cent declined visiting the police or the hospital for medical attention.

In the report, some of the survivors disclosed that they were not aware of the designated police stations or the health facilities where help could be accessed. They were also more comfortable accessing support at their community pharmacy.

It was in view of the findings of the report, and to ensure that survivors of domestic violence get necessary help as required, and easy access to needed services, that the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team partnered the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (Lagos Branch) with a view to introducing and implementing the ‘Speak to INU’, as a coded word for victims of domestic violence to get help.

Speaking to THISDAY at a two-day training program for community licensed pharmacists, organised by DSVRT, the program Coordinator, Titilola Adeniyi, said ‘Speak to INU’ would provide survivors of domestic violence access to help and other relevant support.

“Our data revealed that at least 50 per cent of survival of domestic would approach their community pharmacy to access help after an abuse has occurred. And out of the 50 per cent, a good number will not go to either a police station or hospital to incident the case.

“This became very apparent during the COVID-19 lockdown. So we felt that it was important for us to reach those people because they were not captured in the system. They were not going to the hospital, police or government, and if violence is not checked, it will happen again.

“So we reached out to the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos Branch, and communicated our intentions to them, which is to create a situation where the pharmacy can present itself as a safe space for survivors of domestic violence because that’s the first place they head to for pain relief after suffering the violence.

“So we thought it was possible for us to leverage the fact that they easily would go to a pharmacy, and when they go, they should make use of the code word, ‘Speak to INU, I Need You’. This code word simply communicates to the pharmacist that they had just suffered from domestic violence and they needed help.

“So, immediately they make this statement, they are taken in to a consulting or counseling room, where they are now offered the different options available and the referral part can then be activated.

“We believe that the pharmacy environment lends itself well to this scheme. Indeed, the pharmacy can be a safe space for survivors of domestic violence. To this end, survivors of domestic or sexual violence would be able to make use of the code in accessing help and other relevant support.

“This would be provided for by the pharmacist, and where necessary and desired, onward referrals would be made to DSVRT.

“So the idea is, if a person is experiencing abuse, please go into a community licensed pharmacy, and use the code word, ‘I Want to Speak to INU’, then a trained pharmacist will know what you mean. They will take you into the counseling room, and give you the options available, put you in touch with us, where you can receive a mirage of services, legal support, medical attention, empowerment etc, and they are all free of charge.

“We anticipated that it may be that the survivor rushes out of the home, and runs into a pharmacy, at that point, the pharmacy present itself as a safe space. And the pharmacist can then assist the survivor to even be protected from the abuser.

“It is an innovation that we are all very excited about because this is a demographic that we have not been able to capture for so long into the system. Not just in terms of data, but also in ensuring that they are able to get adequate support,” she said.

Source: This Day

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