Where our patients sometimes live in darkness, squalor, danger and hunger, whether run-down trailer, homeless tent or government project, the emergency departments are different. They are places of bright lights and warmth, safety and relief; where beds are clean and food is available. And if nothing else, places where there are people who are interested and polite.
Leading up to Halloween, there has been a surplus of offensive costumes floating around on the internet -- hazmats suits for Ebola, dressing up like members of ISIS, and making light of domestic violence by dressing up as former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice while holding a doll with a black eye.
I have worked with thousands of survivors of domestic violence, who experienced incredible pain and turmoil in their journey to safety and freedom. But, I have found that the most distraught people I talk with are often not the survivors themselves, but their friends and family -- who are often plagued with anger, guilt, and confusion.
Studies show as many as 48 percent of people in abusive situations stay out of concern for their pets' safety, and more than 70 percent of pet owners entering shelters report their batterer had threatened, injured or killed their pets. But despite this issue, most domestic violence shelters only take humans -- no pets are allowed.