This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Tanveer Wani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Psychiatric Social Work Practice With Victims Of Domestic Violence

More from Tanveer Wani

TW: Mentions of domestic violence

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines a victim of domestic violence as,

“an aggrieved person which means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with a person who live or have lived at any point of time together in a shared household when they are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living as joint family and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence such as physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic abuse by her partner or family members residing in a joint family.”

The act identifies four different subtypes of domestic violence: physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, and economic abuse. Given rising levels of violence against women United Nations has adopted “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!” as this year’s theme to raise awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.

This is a still from a movie called Thappad which tackles the issue of domestic violence
Given rising levels of violence against women United Nations has adopted “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”

In the case of domestic violence, primarily men are seen as perpetrators. Though men also experience domestic violence in societies where patriarchy prevails, domestic violence is usually associated with women as victims. Therefore this article will focus on domestic violence perpetrated against women only.

Studies related to domestic violence in India demonstrate that domestic violence is associated with education, employment status, caste, religion of women and sex of the firstborn child. India shares a significant global domestic violence burden, requiring sustained attention and efforts to deal with it.

Domestic violence is a public health concern and has adverse effects on women’s physical and mental health. Therefore, Psychiatric Social Workers have a significant role in the issues that arise out of this leading public health problem.

This image depicts the existing problem of domestic violence
Domestic violence is a public health concern and has adverse effects on women’s physical and mental health.

The Potential Factors Behind Domestic Violence:

Cultural factors: It encompasses gender-specific socialization, cultural definitions of appropriate sex roles, belief in the inherent superiority of males, values that give men proprietary rights over women and girls, customs of marriage like dowry, acceptability of violence as a means to resolve conflict are cardinal factors that result into domestic violence against women.

Economic factors: Women’s economic dependence on men, poor implementation of laws regarding inheritance, property rights and maintenance after divorce or widowhood, limited access to employment in formal and informal sectors and limited access to education for women contribute to domestic violence.

Legal and Political factors: It is pertinent to mention that low levels of legal literacy among women, cruel treatment of women and girls by police and judiciary, under-representation of women in politics, notions of the family being private and beyond the control of the state, risk of challenge to status quo laws also contribute to domestic violence against women.

This image depicts domestic violence

Domestic Violence Can Lead To These Consequences:

Physical trauma: Domestic violence can lead to physical injuries, gynaecological problems, unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages, internal organ damage, potentially leading to death which should be viewed as a homicide.

Psychological trauma: Psychological trauma can manifest in several forms like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression which can also impact the physical health of the victim, causing cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Role Of Psychiatric Social Workers To Help Victims of Domestic Violence:

The role of the psychiatric social worker is to assist the victim in understanding what is happening, coping with significant trauma and explaining the options available to the victim so that the victim can make an informed decision about what she would like to do in the given circumstances.

Whatever decision the victim makes, staying in the abusive relationship or leaving, the role of the psychiatric social worker is to support the victim in that choice and assist her in dealing with the consequences that flow from that choice.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz)

Psychiatric social workers need to be very careful about assigning a psychiatric diagnosis as the records can be subpoenaed and be used against the victim in court. A victim of domestic violence can experience and show emotional, behavioural and cognitive responses to abuse which should not be misinterpreted as psychiatric in origin instead as a consequence of abuse.

Psychiatric social workers need to assess the victims for potential suicide. Setting for suicide entails carefully asking questions to elicit a victim’s thoughts, possible suicide plans, and means of carrying out these plans.

How Can A Psychiatric Social Worker Help A Domestic Violence Victim At The Individual Level:

Validating: A psychiatric worker needs to validate the thoughts and feelings of the victim, but not always their behaviour. In the process of supportive care, a psychiatric social worker should continue to inquire about the abuse and its impact and help victims reassess their situation and safety needs, make use of resources, and reconsider choices about their lives.

Reassuring: Intervention begins by letting a victim know that you are concerned, that she is not alone, that she doesn’t deserve the abuse, and that help is available. However, reassurance should be used to a reasonable extent to avoid generating false hopes in a victim.

Reframing: Reframing can help a victim to look at the problem from a different perspective. The purpose behind reframing is to generate hopefulness in the face of challenges due to abuse.

Encouragement: A psychiatric social worker needs to encourage the victim to undertake small steps to deal with the challenges arising out of domestic abuse. Encouragement can be a powerful technique as research demonstrates that encouragement helps victims believe that their small steps can lead to positive outcomes. It’s also unethical to push a victim for taking giant steps, which can be emotionally draining.

Jadavpur University students protesting against domestic violence
A psychiatric worker needs to validate the thoughts and feelings of a domestic violence victim, but not always their behaviour. | Photo by Debsuddha Banerjee/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Educating The Victim About Available Legal Options:

Victims of domestic violence should be informed that domestic abuse is a crime and that help from the legal system is available. A psychiatric social worker should ask the victim if she wants you to call the police.

If she does, offer to call them or assist her in doing so. If a victim is ambivalent about calling the police, a psychiatric social worker can discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of filing a police report.

If she chooses not to make a police report at this time, her decision should be respected. However, in certain conditions where reporting to police is mandatory, it is essential to inform the victim of this requirement, preferably at the beginning of the evaluation.

Conclusion:

Domestic violence happens in every community, as well as in every socio-economic group. Domestic violence requires the attention of early identification and intervention, which requires coordinated support from a whole range of agencies. The prognosis for victims of domestic violence is better for individuals who have a robust support system; hence participation in support groups needs to be encouraged by psychiatric social workers.

Tanveer Wani is a Psychiatric Social Worker and an alumnus of the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, Bengaluru. He can be reached at tanveer.nimhans@gmail.com

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence you can reach out to the following places for support:

  1. Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 212 9131
  2. Swayam: +91 98307 72814
  3. Aks Foundation: +91 8793 088 814
You must be to comment.
  1. Tanveer Wani

    The editor of this article has wrongly paraphrased the title of the article. Kindly rectify it.

More from Tanveer Wani

Similar Posts

By Shrsti Tiwari

By Sudhanshu Jha

By Ritika Jain

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below