Recognizing and Responding to the Commonly Misunderstood Reactions to Sexual Assault: Exploring a New Online Curriculum

Date & Time: January 29, 2019

Presented by: Robin Mason, PhD and Stephanie Lanthier, MEd, PhD Candidate, Women’s College Research Institute

Speakers Bios:

Robin Mason is a scientist in the Violence and Health research program at Women’s College Hospital, Women’s College Research Institute and an Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with a cross-appointment to the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She is also the Scientific Lead for Women’s Xchange, a research knowledge and exchange centre focused on supporting and disseminating women’s health research across the province of Ontario and ensuring the integration of sex and gender in all health research. Dr. Mason has been working in the field of intimate partner violence and medical education for nearly 20 years, has contributed to policies at the local, provincial and national level; and, developed four evidence-informed online curricula. Her work is focused on improving the systems’ response to women who experience abuse and related sequelae by educating health and social service providers, developing policies and guidelines to reduce barriers and improve practices, and giving voice to diverse women’s needs and preferences.

Stephanie Lanthier is a PhD candidate in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School Public Health, University of Toronto and a Trainee and Research Assistant with the Violence and Health Research program at Women's College Hospital, Women's College Research Institute. She holds a Master of Education from Queen's University, and a Bachelor of Education and Honours Bachelors of Arts from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation work aims to better understand experiences of intersectional stigma among adolescent and adult survivors of sexual assault who disclose to formal support providers. Stephanie spent several years working in the non-profit and education sectors prior to beginning the doctoral program, including work with the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto and Women’s Place at Malvern Family Resource Centre.

Presentation: As there is “nothing normative about being sexually victimized, there cannot be a ‘normal’ reaction to such a traumatic event” (Fanflik, 2007). Yet, recent media attention has highlighted general beliefs that there are normal reactions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and that these are the acceptable reactions. Survivors who experience other common, but less well understood reactions, such as pretending that everything is fine, convincing oneself that ‘it could have been worse’, or maintaining a relationship with the perpetrator after an assault can be met with disbelief and judgmental comments, potentially further traumatizing the survivor and sabotaging her efforts at healing.

This webinar will explore a new evidence-informed, competency-based online curriculum on recognizing and responding to the ‘commonly misunderstood’ reactions to sexual assault. In particular, it will: discuss the context within which the idea for the curriculum arose; outline the process followed in developing the curriculum; and describe the curriculum content. Excerpts of the curriculum will be shared with participants.

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