Re-Conceptualizing Mental Health Services for Women Who Have Experienced IPV: Responding to Intersecting Experiences of Trauma

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 201710:00AM - 12:00PM108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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Despite the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and its devastating effects on Canadian women, there is a gap in empirically-supported mental health interventions for IPV. Specifically, despite wide acknowledgment of the links between IPV and trauma, there is a research gap in understanding how IPV interventions address trauma. Also problematic is that Canadian IPV interventions have mainly been informed by the 1980s experiences of white, cis-gendered, middle-class, heterosexual women from Duluth, Minnesota, rather than representing women’s diverse experiences of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, religion, and immigration experiences. Interventions for IPV need to shift from a view of gender-based oppression as the root cause of IPV, to a view that encompasses the multiple ways in which identity-based oppressions and traumatic experiences can impact IPV. Informed by critical feminist intersectional and trauma-informed approaches, this qualitative study aims to build theory to address these gaps, using a constructivist grounded theory approach. Theoretical sampling and semi-structured interviews with women in Ontario who have accessed mental health services for IPV will be employed to: 1) understand how trauma is conceptualized and addressed within IPV services; and 2) compare differences in women’s service experiences based on intersecting identities and oppression. Through comparative analysis, this study aims to identify service inequities based on women’s complex identities, and to understand how trauma on multiple levels (childhood adversities, racism, classism, homophobia, etc.) impacts IPV-related trauma. Findings will provide knowledge necessary to reduce inequities in the future design of mental health care for IPV survivors.

Stephanie Baird is a PhD candidate at Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at University of Toronto. Her research interest in trauma and intimate partner violence builds on her community and clinical social work practice with people who have been impacted by experiences of trauma and violence. Her dissertation, which is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, will explore the intersectional experiences of trauma of women who have been abused by a partner.


Stephanie Baird
Lupina Senior Doctoral Fellow


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