Biggest Barriers to Asking about Abuse?

Last week I had the privilege of presenting for the Gold Lactation Online Conference, the largest lactation and breastfeeding conference in the world. If you’ve never participated before, I strongly suggest you check out their program.

As part of my online presentation “Beyond “Screening”: Nurturing Safer Spaces to Elicit and Respond to Disclosures of Abuse”, professionals in the Perinatal Field (lactation consultants, doulas, nurses, physicians etc.) were polled.

Take a look at these results.

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These results express what I have learned from my many years of training: health care providers do not feel adequately equipped to respond to disclosures of abuse, people can feel unsafe working with families, and people are not provided with the time nor resources to learn how to effectively support survivors of abuse in their practice.

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And it can be quite scary when you are not sure how to respond appropriately. It’s imperative that the response to a disclosure of abuse is met with 3 basic messages to the survivor of abuse: they are believed, they are not to blame, and they are not alone. Now, what these messages actually sound like in practice is what we can grapple with. Managing our own emotions and reactions to a disclosed trauma story is also a topic of concern.

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How would YOU have answered?

A survivor’s experience previously disclosing abuse will play an important role in determining subsequent disclosures. A disclosure that is poorly handled can be a form of secondary victimization for the survivor; however, some research indicates that supportive responses from professionals, e.g. acknowledging and validating the survivors’ experiences potentially mitigates detrimental effects of the abuse.

To ask or not to ask?

“To ask or not to ask”? A Safe Passage, Edmonton, AB, May 2016

What an incredibly important role we can play in the lives of people who have been abused when we are equipped to respond appropriately.

This is why I place such an emphasis during A Safe Passage training on preparing for a disclosure of abuse, and learning to provide trauma informed care in the absence of a disclosure but in the presence of indicators.

You owe it to your clients and yourself to know how to respond to disclosures of abuse and act accordingly.


Birth and Beyond Conference: On The Road Series 

Kamloops, BC
June 16-17, 2016

London, ON
June 11/12 (has just 4 spaces left)

The following Twitter thread from my presentation at Gold gives you a peak inside A Safe Passage:

So I hope you can join me at one of these upcoming workshops.. But if you can’t make the trip, hopefully you’ll be able to make it to a workshop or presentation in your own neck of the woods next time I’m in your neighbourhood. I’ll keep you posted.

Please feel free, as well, to get in touch with me about how to make arrangements for me to come to where you live.



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