HHRI believe that the strength of this manual is that it has been tried out in different cultural settings. To do this we contacted the ones that had the most experience in the regions we wanted to visit – local organisations that worked with GBV survivors.
We were happy to cooperate with LIMPAL-Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad-Colombia. They also reviewed the draft and prepared the first pilot training in Colombia. For our pilot in Turkey we cooperated with Human Rights Foundation Turkey who facilitated the second pilot in Adana. AFESIP-Cambodia prepared and facilitated the third pilot training in Cambodia. Kristin Andrea Wilmann conducted a mini-pilot in Oslo, Norway; and the Arab Resource Collective Beirut, Lebanon planned and facilitated a training in Amman, Jordan. The majority have had experiences from the field, but no formal training in mental health. At all the trainings there have been some participants affiliated with the NGOs and with background as doctors or psychologists. Based on these experiences significant changes and developments have taken place in order to make it even more usable in different settings.
The purpose of the pilot training material was to provide assistance to humanitarian actors, health workers and other professionals/semi-professionals to respond effectively toward persons exposed to sexual violence/gender-based violence (GBV) and other forms of trauma in the context of emergency situations, displacement, and armed conflicts. The pilot course go through the manual with focus on:
- a clear reference to human rights principles in relation to severe violations, including gender based violence
- how to provide the helper with a better understanding of trauma, trauma reactions, triggers and re-traumatisation
- how to create possible safe spaces for supporting dialogues and contact
- how to teach the importance of respect and distance, of allowing the person herself to be in command of the story
- how ro avoid any form of pressure as well as instigate sensations of helplessness and powerlessness are relevant issues that will be in-depth presented during the course
- giving information about helper’s stress and reactions and the need for support and communication with an aim to avoid vicarious traumatisation
- that this knowlege can be valuable in situations where humanitarian workers have no or limited access to specialised health services employing health workers with appropriate psychological or psychiatric backgrounds
Who participated, and where they worked – and how being part of the training may have changed their practice according to the feedback we received. In particular how we worked with the concept of the good helper appeared different in each cultural setting. The discussion of the helper`s qualities and the helper`s skills brought out a lot of very good local information and expertise, and strengthened awareness of own resources and possibilities as a helper.
We will also describe the different experiences with the use of the Butterfly women metaphor as well as how the participants have used the exercises in the training. During the training we also focus on the exercises being as a good tool helping themselves – given that their work is very stressful – we have some good examples of this.
The discussions we had about reporting differed from country to country. In some countries there were dilemmas regarding telling the story or remaining silent. And how telling can, if conditions permit, move to reporting. Finally some words about reactions to the human rights approach -how this became integrated into the practical work and not something apart – something that could assist in providing dignity and be actively used in the support of women who felt their lives were taken away, that they were ashamed and humiliated for life etc. Many of the participants in the training expressed that this was an important and approach and also understandable and relevant.