Rockbridge woman asks why domestic abuse haunts health workers
LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - “I am the Jacky,” Jaclyn Hostetter finally said, laughing, when asked about her title.
A health care worker and manager, she had something important on her mind when we met in December. Of four murders in Rockbridge County in the past four years, all were the result of domestic violence, and all the victims were health care workers.
“What made these women, who I knew and have worked with, vulnerable to be in relationships with men that would as far as to kill them because they said that they loved them,” Hostetter asked.
“It really does make you think: Is there something bigger going on here that we don’t know about in health care,” said Heather Wood.
Hostetter reached out to Wood, the Victim Witness Coordinator for Rockbridge.
“You wonder if it’s a socioeconomic problem or issue,” Wood said, “or if it’s, as Jacky really felt strongly and believed, that it was an issue with training.”
“It makes you question things,” Hostetter said, “and it makes you wonder what’s making us so vulnerable to domestic violence.”
“We give the help,” said health care worker Amber Camden, “but where’s our help, you know?”
Home health care and eldercare workers like Camden know there’s a problem.
“Health care workers have the lack of support, counseling-wise, on who they can come to when they feel like they’re being physically or mentally drained,” Camden explained.
“As a health care worker, like, I know that you want to help people,” said Maria Creasey. “And you think, oh I can help this person get better, but you can’t. You just don’t have anything left.”
“I believe it needs, at this point honestly, to be a community conversation that we’re having that everyone is having, and everyone is concerned about,” Wood said.
As was clear in the interview, Hostetter’s own health has made this an urgent cause. Last year, she received a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
“And we make the worst patients ever,” Hostetter said, laughing at herself. “Absolutely the worst patients ever.”
Jacky died January 28, unable to see her plan to completion.
But others have vowed to carry on.
“This is what our community needs, and I want to help,” Camden said. “So I actually jumped on to messaging Heather, and like: hey, what can we do? Am I able to help? I’m all in on it.”
“And the maybe one day there won’t be a problem anymore because we’ve taught people how to handle it,” Hostetter said in that last interview. “That’s a legacy. That’s what I would like to leave for my community.”
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