Working with abuse survivors

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As a midwife, you work with women at a very vulnerable time in their lives.  Many women have histories of sexual abuse as an adult and/or as a child, and may have experienced other forms of abuse, which can profoundly influence their emotionally and psychological well-being and may impact on their experience of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting.

In the Women's Safety Australia study carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (1996), it was revealed that of the women who had experienced violence by a previous partner, 42% experienced violence during pregnancy, with half of these women stating that violence occurred for the first time while they were pregnant. The Personal Safety Survey (2005) showed that 32.5% of women have experienced inappropriate or unwanted comments about their body or sex life, and 25.1% had experienced unwanted sexual touching.  These figures reflect reported cases and may not reveal the extent of abuse of women.  Experts agree that the overwhelming majority of victimisation occurs before adulthood.

It may be difficult for you to know which women in your care have experienced abuse, as many are hesitant to disclose this very personal history, and some may not have the words to name their experience.  Pregnancy, labour and birth can lead to an increase in stress and anxiety for many women, and for some women flashbacks and dissociative experiences and feelings of panic associated with the abuse that they have experienced.  Skills in recognising these signs of distress and strategies to help the woman to manage these experiences are valuable additions to the midwife's toolkit.  Providing a positive environment can help to make pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period positive and healing experiences, that can emotionally prepare women for motherhood.  Sensitive and skilful midwifery care can minimise the chance that the mother will be re-traumatised during the childbearing experience.

Despite the many satisfying aspects of working with women who have experienced abuse, self care is vital to avoid the dangers of high levels of stress, burn-out or vicarious traumatisation.  Knowing how to remain clear, calm and resourceful helps to protect the midwife against these dangers, while also strengthening rapport  with women, and contributing to job satisfaction.  With this in mind, the program will include instruction in several simple and effective mindfulness and /or anxiety management strategies for use both by clinicians and the women they care for.

This program is suitable for midwives, doulas and childbirth educators, all of whom may be caring for affected women at some time during their pregnancies, childbirth or in the postnatal period.

Aims:

This workshop aims to assist midwives, doulas and childbirth educators to:

  • Understand the needs of abuse survivors
  • Increase understanding of the emotional and other impacts of sexual abuse
  • Develop skills in creating a safe, supporting environment to minimise the impact of previous trauma
  • Develop appropriate clinical care and referral pathways
  • Explore self-care in professional practice

Learner outcomes:

  • Be able to use mindfulness practices, and anxiety management exercises to assist in remaining calm, clear and resourceful
  • Describe the impacts of sexual abuse that may be evident during pregnancy, childbirth and/or the postnatal period
  • Identify ways to minimise the impacts of abuse on women in their care
  • Be able to describe and use controlled breathing exercise to assist women manage panic symptoms
  • Be able to help a woman who may be having re-experiencing symptoms to become "grounded"
  • Be aware of possible "triggers" to re-experiencing of past trauma during midwifery care and pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal period, and ways of minimising these.
  • Describe ways to create a safe, compassionate and empowering environment for women
  • Refer to appropriate resources
  • Identify strategies for self-care to reduce stress and burn-out

Continuing Professional Development Points

Awarded 6 CPD points by the Australian College of Midwives.

Program:

FULL PROGRAM PDF

Facilitator:

MAXINE OBRIEN


Cost:
$240 - Includes lunch, refreshments, workshop folders and notes.
Student discounts
available

 Registration: 

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Save $40!

Workshop numbers limited.

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