Researcher Raquel Bergen (Wife Rape: Understanding the Response of Survivors and Service Providers, Sage Publications, California, 1996) writes
Providing outreach to survivors of wife rape is particularly important to legitimize the experiences of these women and provide them with the knowledge that theirs is not a personal problem...Women's organizations are in a valuable position to provide outreach specifically to the women themselves; in doing so, they can go far to help them recognize themselves as survivors of wife rape and end the violence (p.99).
As a survivor of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence and as an advocate for other survivors of the same, I've noted that counsellors and services that are truly conversant with this issue can be notoriously hard for women to find. The problem sometimes is that services do not specifically mention IPSV and demonstrate that they will give assistance to survivors. Survivors themselves are often confused about what happened to them; they cannot break the silence and their silence is fostered through lack of outreach and clear identification of IPSV by services. On the other hand, a woman who knows or suspects that her partner has sexually assaulted her, may feel that the lack of identification and help offered by services means that what happened to her is perhaps not worth seeking help for. That is a chilling and desperately lonely feeling, especially when one sees services specifically mentioning other types of sexual assault or domestic violence. A tiny sampling of IPSV survivors' mixed experiences with professionals can be found here.
However, what I find a great deal of the time is that women who want therapeutic help with IPSV don't know whom to turn to or what responses they'll get. Quite often, it is a priority to talk about the rapes to somebody - or at least know that somebody is there should they wish to talk about it.
.I have thus created databases so that women can read about services that offer help with IPSV, and can choose to avail themselves if they wish. If you are a counsellor or you work with an organisation that offers help with IPSV, you have a chance to provide some outreach to survivors through this site. You can do so by putting information about your service into the most relevant database for your service.. It is an international database that I hope will grow so that IPSV survivors can access your valuable service.
Considerations - Why?
Below, you'll find links to specific considerations for different services, after which there are links to a specific service database. Service providers can read the relevant considerations and then place their service in the relevant database. Just a little bit about why you are asked to first peruse considerations:
For some services and counsellors, the considerations set out in the following pages will be superfluous and self-evident - indeed, I have invited services to participate whom I already know do great work for and with survivors of IPSV. However, the considerations are necessary because they are based on problematic issues many survivors of IPSV have had when help-seeking. You may have heard some of your own horror stories, and you'll know that it's an unfortunate reality that women have faced such situations as being bounced between sexual assault and domestic violence services because neither service feels equipped to take ownership of the problem (and consequently the survivor feels as if nobody cares that she was raped); counsellors have colluded with abusers in couples counselling settings calling sexual violence a "family dysfunction" and using blaming terminology such as "codependent."; pastoral counsellors tell victims of marital rape to "pray" or "submit,
" psychiatrists patronize survivors, labeling them "masochists", or service providers simply don't understand, to the end that women feel unsafe about seeking help again. For my part, I think I've heard it all, and it's such a shame because it can take so much for a survivor to screw up her courage and seek help for this painful issue to begin with!
Fortunately, some survivors of IPSV have also had very favourable experiences with service providers. I do have partner rape survivors tell me that their rape crisis or other counsellor is "fantastic", by which they mean empowering, empathic, validating (that one seems to be extremely important) and able to aid their passage to safety, healing and the reduction of symptoms of the trauma they've experienced. These counsellors believe women and support them in believing in themselves.
So, while I do not want to "grill" participants in the database project, I ask you to choose a link below to specific considerations so that we can all ensure that`services in the database are free of pitfalls like those just described. These points are far from exhaustive, but some of them are of central importance. By looking through them before you put information in a database, you will demonstrate to a survivor that your service is safe and useful for her. Please also feel free to contact me with any considerations you think need adding, or any other questions or suggestions you may have.
If you are already doing good work with IPSV survivors you'll of course bypass the considerations! I do thank you, however, for understanding why they are necessary.
Go Through to Considerations and Databases
Click a link below to download pdf consideration sheets (they'll open in a separate window so you don't get taken away from this page), have a read, and if you are confident that your service offers good practice with survivors of IPSV, click on the link for the database most appropriate for your service. If more than one database is relevant, by all means put information in multiple databases - for example, your sexual assault service may utilize domestic violence training, or vice-versa.