~ By Jasmine Rose
Lately I’ve been thinking about many issues of social work and have been re-inspired by messages and connections I’ve made recently with social workers. Last week I attended the NASW Oregon Chapter’s excellent conference on Trauma and Healing, where I had the pleasure of hearing keynote speaker, Ghislaine Boulanger, Ph.D. speak about Understanding Adult Onset Trauma. She spoke about society’s intolerance of survivors and their trauma over time, in other words, we expect survivors to “get over it.” Dr. Boulanger spoke further about the effects of not addressing the survivor’s symptoms, which will inevitably manifest over time.
I then had the privilege of hearing Carrie O. Banks, Ph.D. and Gayle A. Sheller, MA, M.S.W. speak about their program called Domestic Violence Surrogate Dialogue. This restorative justice program allows survivors of domestic violence to voluntarily have a face-to-face mediation with an offender, not their own offender. Carrie spoke about her experience of trying to answer the question that survivors struggle with, “Is there something I could have done?” She found that this process has allowed the survivors to ask these questions, listen to answers, and not have the same triggers as they would if they were to meet with their former abuser. Gayle talked about the extensive process of matching voluntary offenders with voluntary survivors, and the support team that is involved in this process. I was particularly excited to hear about their recent work with teen girls who have experienced and/or witnessed domestic violence.
This week, I was pleased to see a video in honor of World Social Work Day, which was on 3/16/10. This video attempts to portray social workers as people that do more than the stereotypical child welfare worker, who historically have been thought of as people who would take someone’s children away. It illustrates the many faces and voices of social work by encompassing core values such as social justice, advocacy, holistic approaches, etc. Thinking back to last year’s women’s leadership course and my own leadership and professional goals, I’m happy to say, once again, social work values, mentors, and leaders continue to inspire me and lead me in the work I do. Thank you to all who have helped me along the way.