U Surgeon Goes 'Face to Face' to Help Women Disfigured Through Domestic Violence

U Surgeon Goes 'Face to Face' to Help Women Disfigured Through Domestic Violence

Mar 16, 2003 5:00 PM

When a woman goes to the emergency room with a trauma injury, there's a one-in-five chance her husband, boyfriend, or another acquaintance inflicted the damage.

In the U.S., more than 1 million women a year require medical care because of such domestic violence. Broken noses, jaws, and cheekbones are the most common--and telling--injuries among battered women, according to Steven R. Mobley, M.D., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Those injuries can leave scars for years as painful reminders of abuse, and many women must live with them because they can't afford medical care to correct the damage. But help is available, according to Mobley, a member of Face to Face, a national group of plastic and reconstructive surgeons that helps victims of domestic abuse. Physicians in Face to Face provide consultations and perform reconstructive surgery at no cost to women, children, and men who suffer head, face or neck injuries in domestic violence. "We can't heal the emotional scars of abuse," Mobley says. "But we can help the physical ones so victims regain self-esteem and start to rebuild their lives." Mobley restricts his practice to facial reconstructive surgery for people who've had skin cancer, or who want or need cosmetic work. He and two other U head and neck surgeons, Marshall E. Smith, M.D., associate professor of surgery, and Richard R. Orlandi, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, practice from an office in Research Park near University Hospital and the School of Medicine. People seeking help from Face to Face can call 1-800-842-4546. After an initial screening, callers are given the name of a local contact. The contact sets up an appointment with an advocate to verify that the caller's injuries were caused by domestic violence and that the person seeking help has been out of the violent situation for at least a year. The advocate also ensures that the caller is connected with a local domestic violence program. Face to Face is sponsored by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in conjunction with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence located in Denver.

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