Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Where there is Abuse there is no *should*, there is only the current reality

I recently read and participated in a very long facebook discussion which prompts this post. I cannot, would not, quote directly from the discussion but  I feel the need to write down some paraphrased "quotes" from the conversation and discuss some of the issues that were covered.

So the story is:
After a phone conversation with the woman, a service provider met a couple with the intent of developing a business relationship. When she got there the body language was odd, the woman said things that directly contradicted what she had said on the phone, the man was angry and threatening and didnt want to discuss the contract. The woman cried and apologised a lot. The professional felt unsafe and left, sacrificing the time and investment of resources she had made with a view to doing business with the couple. The professional was telling her story because she wished she had some knowledge of how to respond and wanted to urge others to consider some training in case they ever faced the same thing.

Comments included:

maybe it wasn't an abusive situation, maybe they just had  fight
the professional felt she needed training on abuse, she knew what she was seeing. if something looks abusive, it is. statements like this diminish the problem both in society and the individual impact on the victim. in fact saying this kind of thing to a victim further victimises them.

she obviously didn't tell him about it, she shouldn't be sneaking around
that's victim blaming.
victims sneak around because they are scared. if you see someone sneaking around about something they need not be ashamed of, please, see a bright flashing red siren and ask if they are ok

if she had spoken to him first about spending the money things would be different. my husband isn't abusive and i still speak to him about financial decisions
more victim blaming. this person assumes there will be a reasonable discussion. no abuser can be relied on to behave in any regular, reasonable way so victims have to make their own financial decisions. the decision might be to hand  power to the abuser or it might be to take the risk and step out alone in the decision but forget about a collaborative process. there is NO partnership in ANY area of an abusive relationship

if the professional had better business practices, she wouldn't have got into that situation
maybe she can change her practices to protect herself somewhat but when people believe themselves to be entitled as well as immune to the norms of social behaviour the best business practices might not protect her. the victim blamed this time is a secondary victim but it is still victim blaming.

someone should call that woman to make sure she is ok
before anyone goes riding to the rescue, have you established what a safe method of contact would be? because unless you have been told directly you can put the victim in further danger or at the very least further discomfort

and the final thing i see all. the. time. is when someone writes to a facebook page for mums, has a story of abuse and then 150 people tell her to leave the situation. leaving an abusive situation is the obvious choice but it takes many steps through a long psychological process before a victim can leave.
telling a victim to leave when they feel unable to do so contributes to their victimisation.
abusers make their victims feel incompetent, telling them to leave when they dont feel able to makes them feel more incompetent. and stupid. encourage victims to seek professional help, that is the only suitable suggestion.

this New Zealand website has good information for by-standers who want to help in a situation of domestic violence

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wise Women of Birth

Photo from Natural Beginnings, V. Maddock

This weekend I went to a workshop to see what wisdom I could pick up from a room full of doulas and four guest speakers: birth workers with a combined 150 years of experience serving women.
Two of the guests were from Portland, OR and I was grateful for my blogging friend Snow who has educated me enough so that I felt as if I had some idea about their part of the world. (thank you!) One of these midwives recounted to me a little of what it was like to attend a birth in the aftermath of the Mt St Helens eruption which I found interesting.
As evidenced by the picture I was deep in thought for much of the day and although my readers here tend not to be a demographic who are particularly interested in the issues surrounding birth we can never underestimate the value of getting good information to anyone who belongs to humanity so here are the take home messages of the day (as I see it)

  • We might do well to think about putting more emphasis on the baby and less on pre-birth pedicures and brazilians.
  • We need to stop giving women the message that they need help to birth. Doulas are there to affirm the mother's own ability and bear witness to her process, not to fiddle about with evening primrose oil, rebozos, massage oils or "natural induction methods".
  • There is no good evidence for the current trend of placenta encapsulation and  no guarantee that it is not harmful.
  • Two enormously helpful things any mother can do which are proven to reduce the risk of pre-term birth are to gain enough weight (15-20kg) and to eat plain yoghurt at least once a week during the pregnancy. This improves gut health and produces a favourable vaginal flora, reducing infection risk to mother and baby.
The day was organised but Denise Love of Women's Health Cambodia and featured the owner of the organisation, Chong Nai Hy. Read about their work here.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

mothering the mother

it is about two and a half years since i finished my training as a doula, i wrote about it a few times at the beginning but then i fell silent: there wasn't much to report, there is client privacy to consider and i felt it prudent to keep schtum about my story because some doulas are quick to criticise any of our number who makes the vaguest client details public knowledge. even though i dont publicise this blog, google can reveal anything to anyone and i wouldnt want to get my own profession off side through even an innocent rambling.

this week i booked a client. she will be the fourth woman i work with this year and although four clients is very well below what one might hope for i have been blessed to work with wonderful families so far. the jobs i fear with long, exhausting labours, difficult clients, traumatic circumstances or me failing in some crazy way have not materialised and the births i have attended have each been triumphs in their own way.

along the way i have learnt that some people will have me drive all over the city to give them a free consultation when they have no intention of booking. i have learnt that by even hinting that i want them to meet me on my own terms i can dissuade the ones who dont respect my time.

i have developed a website, created a standard invoice, made an information package to hand out, written a client agreement, got business cards, collaborated on a logo design, learnt how to get on the first page of a google search and started developing a format for how i can best cover everything i need to cover as a clients' pregnancy/ birth/ early parenting consultant.

i have discussed breastfeeding, mastitis, baby shopping, family dynamics, circumcision, yoga, epigenetics, self care, hypnosis for birth, lotus birth, water birth and so  much more.

i have done many, many "meet & greet" appointments, most of which didnt result in me being hired but i liked all of the people and could genuinely wish them well.

i have figured out that print advertising seems to be money down the drain and that google maps always underestimates travel times.

i have talked birth so incessantly that my daughters could probably doula without formal training and even my sons know that an all-fours position is my default recommendation for women to labour in.

i wanted say thanks for your enduring interest and support and though i cant tell funny / heartwarming / graphic stories i can tell you that taking this path has certainly been the slow road but the scenery is lovely.