Violence victims need support

Editorial

THERE is a need to have medical and psychological support for women and children victims of violence available in the communities.
An Independent Formative Evaluation of Family Support Centres in Papua New Guinea June 2016 report said many women and children lacked access to adequate intervention services for a healthy, enabling recovery from the emotional and psychological trauma of violence.
The first example of a Family Support Centre (FSC) in Papua New Guinea was established at the Lae hospital in 2003 with support from Soroptimists International.
By 2015, there were nominally fifteen FSCs in thirteen provinces across the country.
UNICEF has provided support to nine of these FSCs and thus has commissioned this formative evaluation of the approach.
The primary purpose of the FSC was to respond to the high rates of abuse and violence experienced by women and children by providing a comprehensive services medical, psychosocial and legal support.
Addressing domestic violence requires a coordinated community response that includes healthcare facilities, law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organisations, schools that serve victims’ children, and effective public policy.
Survivors require legal support to access justice, medical treatment, psycho-social support and often, especially in the case of intimate partner violence, assistance with finding emergency shelter and livelihood support to enable them to leave their homes
Family Support Centres were proposed as a mechanism to deliver services using comprehensive care protocols under a ‘one stop shop’ model, based on the premise that victims of violence usually seek health assistance as a first priority.
Even if they access medical reports from health workers with the intent to report an incident to police, many opt not to attend police stations.
Fear of unsympathetic responses from police, fear of being followed to a police station by their attacker or attacker’s family, lack of detailed information about their legal rights or legal processes, shame at having been assaulted and fear of possible retaliatory consequences from the accused party or his (or her) family all contribute to client attrition from referral systems.
Take the children into the equation. Children living with domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household that is dominated by tension and fear.
These children will see their mother threatened, demeaned or physically or sexually assaulted.
A network of FSVUs, family support centres and NGOs are increasing across PNG; but there is much work to be done because many women don’t have such support.
An important document women and children need is medical evidence which is crucial in attaining criminal convictions for family and sexual violence-related cases.
Hence, medical professionals play an important role in attaining information when treating survivors of FSV and recording the findings into documents that could be used in court to support a conviction
While the law is there to protect and support survivors or victims, a clear pathway to medical and psychological help should be readily made available.
To serve the victims of domestic violence, organisations should provide two basic types of services: services to address physical and emotional trauma and services to reduce violence by enabling women to leave an abusive relationship.
Leaving an abusive relationship can be exceedingly difficult and inadequate services to help women plan for and cope after leaving makes it even more difficult.
Communities play a vital role in enabling women to escape violence by offering safe housing, childcare, employment, and food since victims may not have independent incomes or alternative housing options.
Expert consensus suggests that empowerment is the most effective approach to provide necessary services to victims.

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