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“Why Cry if No One Hears?” The Deaf Community’s Experience of Sexual and Domestic Violence Presented by Gretchen Waech.

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Presentation on theme: "“Why Cry if No One Hears?” The Deaf Community’s Experience of Sexual and Domestic Violence Presented by Gretchen Waech."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Why Cry if No One Hears?” The Deaf Community’s Experience of Sexual and Domestic Violence Presented by Gretchen Waech

2 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Definitions: deaf – lacking hearing, either entirely or at a severe to profound level. This is a medical term. Deaf - individuals who, in addition to not hearing, are members of the Deaf community, subscribing to the unique cultural norms, values, and traditions of that group. Members of this group typically use American Sign Language (ASL) as their 1st language. hard of hearing (HoH) - an individual with a hearing loss (ranging from mild to severe)

3 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Definitions:  “hearing impaired” – Deaf community does not consider themselves impaired, and “hearing” is not the important word  This is a term created by the medical field and reflects the pathological view of deafness  The Deaf community prefers the terms Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

4 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Deaf Culture Primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) Recognized language with its own rules of grammar and syntax English and ASL are NOT the same thing! Consider possibility of ESL (English as a Second Language) circumstances

5 ASL/English The “ASL” slides are either written using ASL gloss (a teaching tool used to transcribe ASL sign for sign for those learning the language) or were written by a Deaf woman for whom ASL was a first language. This is a representation of what a Deaf person might write in each situation. The English slides are a representation of what a qualified interpreter would voice in each situation.

6 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, ME HIDE SEE DADDY BEAT ME SCARED RUN HOUSE FAR MAN CALL POLICE COME QUESTION QUESTION REALLY ME SHOCK ASL

7 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, I was hiding and saw Daddy hit Mommy many many times. I was so scared, I ran to a house down the road. The man there called the police. They came and asked me many questions, but I was really just frozen in shock. English

8 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, THAT MAN COME INTO MY HOUSE. ME ASLEEP, WAKE UP SEX. PUSH HIM OFF DON’T STOP. DARK IN HOUSE CAN’T UNDERSTAND HIM, MAD. SCARED. HE LEFT. ASL

9 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, English A man broke into my house while I was asleep. I woke up to find him having sex with me. I tried over and over again to push him off but he wouldn’t stop. It was dark in the house, so I couldn’t see him clearly to read his lips but could tell he was angry. I was terrified. He finally left.

10 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Translation/interpretation In the last example, how might law enforcement or medical personnel interpret the “ASL” version of her statement? Just the fact that she used the word “sex” instead of something more emotionally loaded could lead to bias across the board. Yet, if a qualified interpreter is used, the story is very different.

11 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Deaf Culture Rooted common experience of being Deaf in a hearing society Examples: Restaurant, law enforcement, family dinners

12 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Audism: April 10, N :an attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear; like racism or sexism, audism judges, labels, and limits individuals on the basis of whether a person hears and speaks. (Humphrey and Alcorn 1995: 85)  Based on the medical view of deafness as a disability which must be fixed  Rooted in the historical belief that deaf people were savages without language; language = humanity

13 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Audism: Examples  Jumping in to help a deaf person communicate without being asked  Asking a Deaf person to lipread you or write when he/she has indicated this isn’t preferred  Making phone calls for a deaf person since they “can’t”  Making decisions for a deaf person rather than explaining options because it would “take too long”  Assuming that those with better speech/English skills are superior  Asking a Deaf person to “tone down” their facial expressions because they are making others uncomfortable  Refusing to explain to a Deaf person why everyone around him is laughing – “never mind, I’ll tell you later, it doesn’t matter.”  Forcing a Deaf child to give up recess to spend hours in speech therapy April 10,

14 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Audism Because many Deaf people grew up in hearing families who did not learn to sign, audism may be ingrained. It is only when they encounter Deaf-centered empowerment philosophies that they begin to understand their capabilities. Audists may be either hearing or deaf. Some are even Deaf. April 10,

15 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, When interacting with a Deaf/deaf person… Be extra aware of your body language and facial expressions Be on the lookout for the “smile and nod” that signals lack of comprehension

16 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Communicating with deaf people: It is important to remember that not all deaf people’s communication needs are alike, and you should ask the person directly what their needs are. They may communicate through: Sign language (ASL, SEE, contact sign, etc)* Speech/lipreading Writing *American Sign Language, Signing Exact English

17 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Lipreading: The Imprecise Art Lipreading - not an acquirable skill, but rather an inborn talent – similar to musical or artistic talent Only a tiny percentage = expert lipreaders. In order to get 50-75% of the information it is necessary that: 1) Deaf person has a high level of English proficiency 2) Deaf person have a thorough understanding of the subject you are speaking of 3) Deaf person be an expert lipreader 4) Your body language and facial expressions convey the correct message 5) The lighting and placement of both speaker and lipreader be correct April 10,

18 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Lipreading: The Imprecise Art Is it worth the gamble? April 10, Always ask how the deaf person wishes to communicate. Give options. Example: “Communicate best, how? Interpreter (I will pay), writing, lipreading?”

19 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Communication Tips If it is necessary to communicate with a Deaf person who indicates a preference for lipreading (only appropriate if both parties are completely comfortable) here are some tips:

20 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Communication Tips Hands down, the best way to sit is… hands down! Remember not to look at paper while talking Be conscious of lighting… don’t sit with back to light Speak at a reasonable pace, but not S…L…O…W…L…Y If the person doesn’t understand what you say at first… don’t repeat. RESTATE.

21 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Communication Tips CHECK YOUR TEETH! Spinach interferes with lipreading.

22 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Relay: Allows phone communication between Deaf and hearing people May be either text-based relay or video relay (VRS) Many prefer VRS due to its linguistic accessibility but the technology is not always available Text-based: English comprehension level an issue VRS: most do not allow you choice of interpreters

23 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Sexual and Domestic Violence in the Deaf Community Most evidence regarding Deaf people is anecdotal – few studies focusing on this population. Studies indicate abuse is 2 to 6 times more likely to occur among people with disabilities Some figures indicate over 60% of Deaf persons have experienced or will experience abuse by a partner in their lifetime.

24 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Sexual Violence in the Deaf Community Some studies - sexual violence against women with disabilities is much more prevalent, 2X-3X higher Others have shown it is at similar (unacceptably high) levels. Two significant factors differ for women with disabilities: 1)Duration of the abuse is longer 2)Higher number of perpetrators are reported

25 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Why are Deaf people targeted? Perception of vulnerability Easier to isolate Deaf Stressors

26 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Deaf Stressors Elements of being Deaf/HOH that make a person more susceptible to victimization Learned helplessness/internalized audism Compounded by abuse Difficulty in communication with law enforcement, medical professionals, etc. Tradition of secrecy within the culture or protection of perpetrators who are members of the community Common to minority groups

27 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Deaf Stressor Number One The Deaf victim/survivor often cannot leave her community. Even if she chooses to change her geographical location, she will still be part of the community… thus, safety planning takes a different slant.

28 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Specific issues for Deaf survivors Access to communication and information The Deaf grapevine/community Abuse in educational settings Lack of culturally affirmative/accessible services Misunderstanding about isolation/integration Lack of support system Lack of accessibility of the judicial and medical systems

29 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Access to communication and information  Little or no education about S/DV within community.  Minimal ability to understand or interpret information presented – example in court  Sometimes technology is not Deaf-friendly (closed-captioning, subtitles, English) INCIDENTAL LEARNING

30 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, The Deaf Grapevine/Community  Deaf community very interconnected  Rumor and gossip common – information has great value, even if not precise  Confidentiality in Deaf community can be perceived as antisocial – may need to educate Deaf client on why confidentiality is important

31 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Abuse in Educational Settings Historically a widespread problem - left generations of adult sexual abuse survivors with few resources Lack of education for students and faculty on abuse and its consequences Who do they tell? Deaf community fears exposure – closing of schools – but wants to protect children

32 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Lack of culturally affirmative/accessible services  Limited number of Deaf-centered programs  Hotlines not accessible – often hang up  Advocates not trained or knowledgeable regarding deaf survivor needs  Lack of understanding about Deaf culture  Lack of appropriate treatment - No signing therapists, doctors, etc  Shortage of interpreters

33 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Isolation in the Deaf context  Philosophy of integration - a boon to many with disabilities, but often a barrier for Deaf clients.  Integration into a hearing program = isolation  Hearing shelters: few will stay more than 24 hrs without other Deaf to interact with  Safety becomes a lesser priority than the need for communication.  Support groups – lack of common cultural experience and communication barriers April 10,

34 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Lack of support system Deaf community is often spread out – particularly true in rural states Loss of status in community… or loss of community Family may be unable to communicate – high percentage of Deaf have hearing families Inappropriate behaviors run unchecked

35 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Lack of accessibility of the judicial and medical systems  Interpreters often concentrated in one area – difficulty in securing an interpreter for outlying areas  Shortage of interpreters in general  Lack of legal/medical interpreters  Lack of interpreters in a timely manner – Denver  Refusal to follow the law or claims of undue burden

36 Gretchen Waech, 2009 April 10, Differing forms of Abuse Abuser may: Attack ears (to cause pain) Attack hands (to prevent signing) Destroy, withhold or damage communication equipment Refuse to sign Attack sight (to further isolate)

37 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Specific issues with sexual violence Deaf survivors often contend with double barriers: SV survivor myths/ general deaf myths SV survivor sexuality issues/ deaf sexuality myths SV survivor shame/ internalized oppression SV medical issues/ lack of medical system access SV survivor barriers to justice/ justice system inaccessibility

38 Gretchen Waech, 2009 What next? Program assessment and research Sponsor training on Deaf survivors for your program/area Create formal referral process with Deaf advocates Policy-protocol creation/change Outreach I am happy to assist with any of these!

39 Gretchen Waech, 2009 Contact Information Gretchen Waech Coolgretl – AIM (DirectVP) (IP) (IP Relay/Cell)

40 Any Questions? Thanks!!


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