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Women’s College Hospital looks beyond the headlines at panel discussion

March  9, 2015

The importance of meaningful dialogue and improved support for women was recently explored during a panel discussion organized by Women’s College Hospital (WCH). The event, which was moderated by Dr. Valerie Taylor, psychiatrist-in-chief at WCH, examined how high-profile cases are drawing attention to the complex issues surrounding violence against women.

“We want to move the conversation forward,” moderator Dr. Taylor said at the event, which was held at the YWCA Elm Centre.

As a world leader in women’s health, and in keeping with its mission to advance and advocate for the health of all women, WCH celebrates International Women’s Day, each year, with a lecture on an important current affairs topic that is affecting women. This year, WCH hosted a panel discussion, entitled Beyond the Headlines.

Marilyn Emery, president and CEO at WCH, opened the event and expressed her support for those who spoke out about the pervasive problem of violence against women.

WCH has a long history of supporting survivors of trauma and violence. The hospital’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC) was the first hospital-based program in Ontario to provide emergency care, counselling and follow-up to clients who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence. Today, this service continues to provide around-the-clock expert care.

The recent event explored how the media, advocacy groups and health professionals can increase awareness and incite change. Panelist Kevin Donovan, an investigative reporter and editor with the Toronto Star who — with reporter Jesse Brown — broke the Jian Ghomeshi story, discussed how fear and other barriers prevented women from coming forward about their stories.

Meanwhile, fellow panelist Nneka MacGregor, a long-time advocate and the executive director of the Women’s Centre for Social Justice, spoke about how power structures often prevent some women from being heard.

As well, Dr. Catherine Classen, a psychologist and academic lead of the Trauma Therapy Program at WCH, discussed the importance of trauma-informed care in preventing re-traumatization of survivors seeking care.

The event ended with an honest and insightful question and answer session, where many attendees shared their stories and insights.

panel discussion moderated by Dr. Valerie Taylor
From left: Marilyn Emery, president and CEO, WCH; Dr. Catherine Classen, psychologist and academic lead, Trauma Therapy Program, WCH; Nneka MacGregor, executive director, Women’s Centre for Social Justice; Kevin Donovan, investigative reporter and editor, Toronto Star and Dr. Valerie Taylor, scientist and psychiatrist-in-chief, WCH.
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