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Women Survivors of Sexual Violence and Partner Abuse: Exploring Transformative Learning through Social Action Participation

Susan H. Young M.Ad.Ed. (Candidate) & Elizabeth Lange, Ph.D. (Supervisor) St. Francis Xavier University

Doorways to the layers of selves

Integration
Invite the Mind To spiral to the centre of the Heart Where the exquisite clarity of Spirit Lives in the marrow, Juicy and serene.
SH Young, 2011

Outline
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Research Project Question Background Methodology Research Methods Findings Implications

Research Project Question


Do women survivors of sexual violence and partner abuse experience transformative learning by engaging in social action on a Survivors Advisory Council?

Background: Identifying the Gap


Adult educators are usually social activists who challenge learners and systems about justice issues (Friere, 1970; Lange, 2009; Mezirow, 2009; OSullivan, 2008; Taylor, 2009; & Tisdell, 1998, and others) Yet very few adult educators talk about violence against women (hooks, 2000; Horsmann, 1999; Johnson-Bailey, 2005; Price, 2005; Stalker, 2005).

Research Project
Goals: Explore survivors experiences Engage communities in change Guiding Principle: Survivors experiences and voices are valued as experts

Background: Definition of Violence Against Women


Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
United Nations, 1993

Background: Survivors Advisory Councils Survivors who come together to improve


services for victims of sexual violence and partner abuse. Engage in public education about their lived experience as survivors during the disclosure process, primarily with service providers and Coordinating Committees Against Violence

Methodology
1. 2. 3. 4.
Qualitative Critical ethnography Lens of feminist and critical theory Transformative Learning Theory

Research Methods
1. Data Collection: Two Ontario Survivors Advisory Councils Eight individual interviews Key preliminary findings: Two participant check-in groups One focus group with self-disclosed survivors 2. Data Analysis Inductive and Deductive Started with themes then expanded to categories linked to larger social movements

Dying to the self

Photo by SH Young

Six Key Findings


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Powerlessness as a Victim Finding Voice Complex Identities Social Movement Learning Personal and Political Social Activism

Data Analysis
1. Oppression and Ways of Knowing 2. Political and Multidimensional Transformative Learning 3. Development of Critical Consciousness

Implications of the Research


1. Adult Educators 2. VAW Sector 3. Survivors Advisory Councils

Self-Acceptance
THE STRUGGLE TO BE SOMETHING MORE THAN THE PERSON OTHERS HAVE MADE, TO CONSTRUCT AND THEN LIVE UP TO A SET OF OUR OWN EXPECTATIONS IS ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING STRUGGLES OF OUR ADULT LIVES. Daloz, 1999

Paddling new rivers

Photo by SH Young

I think being a survivor is key [to making change]. You know its easy for people to listen to what youre saying, but when they know that this has happened to you, theyre [really] going to listen. Its not just somebody blabbing away about statistics or whatever else. I think the fact that I share my story and my experiences, and personalize it, I think that is huge to making any kind of change, or impact, on somebody. I think thats key. Samantha