Thursday, 10 March 2011

The impact of domestic violence on women and their families

Domestic violence affects about a quarter of the population of the world and in some countries, half of the population is affected.

In all countries, domestic violence brings an unjustified element of shame and has a deep impact on the lives of women and children.

My work with mental health practitioners in Slovenia and Greece revealed that domestic violence topped the list of issues they wanted more knowledge about in the context of mental health and gender.

Despite this, I found that practitioners in the eight demonstration sites I worked with  felt uncomfortable about helping the women who approached them to deal with the issue and tended to refer them on to other agencies, setting the women on a kind of merry-go-round which invariably led them back to them.

I am now the principal investigator of a European Union funded pilot project which aims to address this issue and provide training for the practitioners, so that they are better skilled in dealing with cases of domestic violence. We will be also developing modules geared towards empowering the women involved and in some cases, training them to help other women in similar circumstances. Caroline Meffan,  from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, is the project manager.

If we are successful, we will prove that it is worth replicating this study in each of the countries on a national basis and rolling it out further afield.

This is a global problem and the damage to women and children affected by this issue is phenomenal.

We had our kick-off meeting this week, which is apt given that it is International Women's Week,  so we will keep you posted on developments from then.

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