October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In its honor, we sat down to chat with Dr. Jesika DiCampli, our physician at the SCNM community clinic located at Sojourner Center, a domestic violence shelter.
Since she was just five years old, Dr. DiCampli knew she wanted to be a physician. As a little girl, she remembers examining the photos in human anatomy books, trying to figure out how babies grew. Over the years, her fascination with the medical field became more personal when she developed health issues that were left unanswered by a traditional doctor. This led her to research a variety of non-traditional medical schools. She found Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and from the moment she set foot on campus, she knew she wanted to study here. Fifteen years later Dr. DiCampli is now a practicing physician, SCNM faculty member, mid-wife and mother of two with a third child on the way.
Dr. DiCampli became SCNM’s chief physician at Sojourner Center three years ago. She told us, “I fell in love with working at a domestic violence shelter and helping the students oversee a population of patients that had gone through both emotional and physical struggles.” She described working with the patients as rewarding but also very hard. She said, “All the patients impact me. The stories I hear are just as heart breaking as you imagine they would be.”
Dr. DiCampli shared the positive impact she had on a timid young woman who came in to the clinic. This patients’ head was visibly displaced due being hit repetitively. Dr. DiCampli and her students performed an adjustment on her and almost instantaneously, the young woman was walking tall and exuding personality. The positive shift in the patient was so dramatic that everyone noticed it.
In addition to helping others, working at Sojourner has allowed Dr. DiCampli to reflect on her own experience and recognize that she had previously experienced domestic violence in a relationship. “I look back and see how I processed it, grew, survived and changed. Some women don’t necessarily get that opportunity.”
Dr. DiCampli believes it is important to spread awareness about domestic violence by talking about it. She says, “A lot of people either think of it as taboo or have preconceived notions, even in the terminology they use about domestic violence. The more you talk about it, you will find there are many people out there who have experienced it and don’t even know it. It can come in many different shapes and forms. It can spread to children and pets. Both men and women can be in abusive relationships.”
She also shared a seldom known fact about the role sex trafficking plays in domestic violence. Dr. DiCampli shared, “Sex trafficking is part of the abuse. Most people do not know that it is part of domestic violence realm. Most of the time what is really going on with prostitution is sex trafficking. A lot of the women are forced into that lifestyle against their will.”
Dr. DiCampli’s final words of advice were, “Everyone should know there is support and help for those in need. There is nothing to be ashamed of and it is important to seek help if something doesn’t feel right.”
This October, you can help spread awareness by being part of the conversation. You can also help by donating in-kind items to the Sojourner Donation Center.
If you or someone you care about are in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit http://www.thehotline.org/.