This week we begin a new series on PTSD among women veterans. My guest is Ruth Moore, who tells the story of being sexually assaulted by her commanding officer in the Navy. She describes a chilling scenario in which she is ostracized and punished for seeking help, and feels she can trust no one on the remote overseas base where she is stationed. Eventually she finds a way to escape, but as she explains, there are thousands of other young soldiers who are not as fortunate.
This week I speak with Alice, an asylee from Burundi who now lives in Maine. She talks about her work in both countries to support and empower women who have faced cultural silencing and endured trauma. Together we explore ways that refugees might be connected with therapists who can help them tell the painful stories they need to document in order to apply for asylum.
An interview with playwright, Cathy Plourde, founder of Add Verb productions about her new play, Major Medical Breakthrough. Cathy tells the story of writing a play to inspire health care providers to screen their patients for domestic violence. She gave sobering statistics about the high numbers of women and some men, who are being abused who see their doctors during the abuse and are never asked about it. Indeed only 10-19% of doctors report that they screen their patients routinely for domestic violence. Cathy stressed that where there is domestic violence, there is also likely to be sexual assault, something that often goes unasked about. She cites the ACE study to show that the more trauma in a person’s life, the more physical health problems they will have, and unless our doctors and nurses ask their patients, the cause of many illnesses will be missed. She gave a thoughtful description of why providers are hesitant to ask, but encouraged health workers to trust that asking the question, providing support and access to resources can make a tremendous difference.
This is part two of an interview with violence prevention educator, Daryl Fort, about ways in which we are all bystanders to social interactions that foster violence against women. Daryl challenges us to see these situations for what they are and to have the courage to intervene. He describes two everyday social situations in which it feels very risky to speak up and challenge what is going on; one in which guys are debriefing their sexual conquests together, and one in which a man is trying to get a woman drunk at a bar so he can have sex with her. He acknowledges how difficult it is for such verbal challenges to go well, and suggests that we make a clear decision ahead of time to act when someone is at risk.
Part one of an interview with violence prevention educator, Daryl Fort, about how the culture supports the superiority of men and the inferiority of women. He links the many levels of messages about women’s inferiority to the justification of mistreatment. He describes two gang rapes of young girls in which communities colluded to protect the rapists and to focus the conversation on the behavior, and dress of the victims. He describes the way that cultural assumptions that women are not to be taken seriously, result in minimization of the crimes against them. He makes a clear case that jokes and disrespectful language form the foundation and and basis for the eventual expression of violence against women.