Skills and Strategies for Responding to Sexualized Violence: What We All Need to Know

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Skills and Strategies for Responding to Sexualized Violence: What We All Need to Know

Posted by Jane Gallinaugh on October 27, 2016 in News
Skills and Strategies for Responding to Sexualized Violence
Skills and Strategies for Responding to Sexualized Violence

Research shows that the sooner a survivor of sexualized violence can speak of their experience in a supportive environment, with family, friends, and/or a professional, the more thorough the healing process. Students in health professions programs are among those families and friends, and will be among the professionals, to whom survivors turn. While trauma therapy is an area of highly specialized education and training, all students in the health professions should have access to introductory curricula for responding to sexualized violence.  

Marion Brown, faculty at the School of Social Work, and social work students Nicole MacFarlane, Brittany Orchard and Andrew Childerhose developed curriculum for an interprofessional mini course sponsored by the Faculty of Health Professions, and ran it with 23 students from social work, nursing and occupational therapy for 6 sessions in September and October.  The course focused on information, awareness, and concrete skills for being a first responder in situations of sexualized violence.  

The curriculum included:

  • reflection on personal and societal assumptions and values
  • review of statistics and relevant legislation
  • teaching and learning leading principles and practices of emotional support 
  • time to practice these principles in simulated scenarios
  • presentations from local resources regarding rape culture and its manifestations in daily life, police reporting procedures, court processes, and ways to become further involved in the issues and services

Feedback from students was positive, from the written “Excellent course!” to the words of a student departing from the final session that she had never considered working in the field of sexualized violence response, and she felt she had found her calling.

Here are the words of a social work student who participated in the mini course:

This mini course is one of the most valuable things I ever took part in. To put it into perspective – I went into the Social Work program thinking I wanted to work in Child Protection, but this program inspired me to work with victims and survivors of sexual assault. The subject material in this course is sad and angering – some days were a little hard, I will admit. However, this class provided me with such inspiration. It has shown me what is wrong in society that allows sexual assault to thrive, and also ignited in me a need to do something about it. If you are thinking of taking this course, do it. You will not be disappointed.
~ Bailey

Participants completed pre- and post-mini course self evaluations regarding understanding, myths and facts, knowledge of statistics, comfort responding to disclosures of sexualized violence, knowledge of one’s professional role, understanding of principles of emotional support, confidence in skills, and familiarity with local resources. Every participant advanced on the scale toward strong agreement, reflecting increased capacity from the start to the end of the course.