Educating the Professionals

by Janice Gingell

We provide
workshops to
who are likely
to see, but not
recognize, a
number of

Violence against women has recently received increased public attention. For people working to educate professionals about the realities of women who live with violent male partners, this attention has increased the challenge. Every participant at a workshop comes with beliefs about the causes and incidence of male violence. Everyone has an opinion about what should be done and who should do it.

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses of Saskatchewan (PATHS) is a network of sheltering and counselling services for abused women. It is staffed by a job shared position of coordinator. One of the coordinators' duties is to augment the public education which is provided to the community by individual PATHS members. In doing so, we have recently begun providing educational workshops to professionals who are likely to see, but possibly not recognize, significant numbers of abused women. These workshops have been presented to nursing and legal professionals, social workers, mediators and to students in professional colleges.

As educators, we must be careful to impart information which will assist these professionals to effectively meet the needs of the women they see, while, at the same time, overcome any disbelief and bias about women who have experienced violence. Participants at workshops vary significantly in their knowledge about male violence and often there is a split along gender lines. Perhaps not surprisingly, women appear more open to receiving this information.

The Workshops
To determine the knowledge level and mindset of those in attendance, we begin sessions by describing a series of scenarios which we then ask people to address in small groups. The scenarios involve abused women in factual situations where members of the particular profession are likely see them. Social workers may be given questions which relate to a woman's application for financial assistance. Nurses might be presented with a number of incidents in which a woman comes to an emergency room or clinic for medical assistance. Mediators are asked to consider dealing with a woman in an initial interview, proceeding through a series of questions to determine if there has been abuse in her relationship.

Éduquer les professionnels
par Janice Gingell

L'Association provinciale des maisons de transition de la Saskatchewan offre des ateliers éducatifs à des groupes professionnels sur la violence dont sont victimes les femmes dans des relations intimes. Les ateliers visent les avocats, les médiateurs, le corps médical, les travailleurs sociaux et la police.

Le matériel de base des ateliers vise à éduquer les participants à déceler des signes d'abus et leur incidence, à comprendre pourquoi les femmes éprouvent des difficultés à quitter un conjoint abusif et à leur apprendre à aider les femmes maltraitées. Les ateliers se concentrent sur des situations auxquelles les professionnels peuvent avoir affaire tous les jours lorsqu'ils traitent avec des femmes maltraitées. Les services que ces professionnels fournissent en général sont ensuite analysés pour déterminer si leur réaction devrait changer une fois qu'ils savent que la femme est maltraitée. Il s'est avéré quelquefois plus difficile d'entrer en contact avec des professionnels pour leur présenter le matériel que d'élaborer le matériel lui- même.

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