WCH CONNECTNovember 25, 2019

Creating a safe space for victims of violence

  • November 25, 2019
  • BY Sarah Warr
Janice Dumont
Janice Du Mont, EdD

Violence against women is one of the most widespread and persistent human rights violations across the world, and remains largely unreported due to the silence, stigma and shame. November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – a day established to bring awareness to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences associated with violence against women.

At Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI), we have a long history of addressing the different aspects of gender-based violence and proposing solutions to help end violence against women. Janice Du Mont, EdD, senior scientist at WCRI, and Robin Mason, PhD, scientist at WCRI and scientific lead at Women’s Xchange, have led this important work through a variety of research projects targeted towards awareness, education and improved clinical practices.

Since the late 1990s, Du Mont has spearheaded an interdisciplinary research program to address the global pandemic, focusing on sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse. She has advised many individuals on how to respond to violence cases and has developed educational resources for emergency department healthcare providers who are often a victim’s first point of contact. 

In collaboration with the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres (ON SA/DVTC), Du Mont has created and evaluated materials to train more than 1,500 emergency room physicians and nurses across Ontario. Du Mont’s training focuses on providing appropriate and sensitive care to victims/survivors of sexual assault. Du Mont and her team have several research initiatives underway that are focused on enhancing training and healthcare services for sexual assault victims from marginalized populations including Trans and Indigenous communities.

Robin Mason
Robin Mason, PhD

Mason has also developed a number of educational tools and contributed to guidelines that improve healthcare practices and services for women who have experienced intimate partner violence and sexual assault. With experts across the province, she has developed a number of evidence-informed, interactive online curricula to help healthcare providers recognize and respond to women who have experienced abuse. Approximately 20,000 individuals have accessed these online educational programs that cover a range of topics. Some of the subjects include making connections between domestic violence, mental health and substance use, addressing past sexual assault in clinical settings and recognizing and responding to the commonly misunderstood reactions to sexual assault.

Additionally, Mason helped develop a new, interactive module for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) – Recognizing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Training for Health Care Professionals – which was created in response to the tragic murder of Dr. Elana Fric. The CPSO decided that physicians and other healthcare professionals needed to have the tools to better recognize and help address domestic violence occurring in their colleagues’ lives and prevent future occurrences. Across the Toronto Academic Health Science Network, this module is mandatory for physicians to maintain their hospital privileges.

Together, Du Mont and Mason’s research is helping to improve the health of victims of gender-based violence by strengthening the services provided to them and addressing the gaps in education and the training of clinicians.

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