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©Sujata Warrier ENGAGING CULTURE IN DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE CASES Sujata Warrier, Ph.D Director - New York City Program New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
©Sujata Warrier For a minute….. You are facing the Old Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Walk around its walls until you come to a brass strip set in the pavement. The smooth, gold band in the ground marks the Prime Meridian, or Longitude Zero… Stand to the left- hand side of the brass strip and your are in the Western hemisphere. But move a yard to the right, and you enter the East: whoever you are, you have been translated from a European into an Oriental 1. Young, R.C. (1995) Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. Routledge:London, p.1
©Sujata Warrier WHY SHOULD WE CONSIDER CULTURE? Culture shapes an individual’s experience of domestic and sexual violence. Culture shapes the batterer’s response to intervention and acceptance of responsibility. Culture shapes access to other services that might be crucial for the victim and children. The culture of the system, the professionals within the system, and the victims will impact outcome.
©Sujata Warrier WHAT IS CULTURE? Historically and anthropologically thought to be a stable pattern of beliefs, values, thoughts, norms etc.. that are transmitted from generation to generation for successfully adapting to other group members and their environment. The problem is that this is an outdated definition.
©Sujata Warrier Definition Of Culture A critical definition of culture refers to shared experiences or commonalities that have developed and continue to evolve in relation to changing social and political contexts, based on: –race –ethnicity –national origin –sexuality –gender –religion –age –class –disability status –immigration status –education –geographic location (space) –rural, urban, –time, or –other axes of identification – within the historical context of oppression
©Sujata Warrier Cultural Context In all cultures, contexts of privilege and access are created by certain norms against which all other sub groups are compared. In the U.S. attributes of the dominant culture includes English as a primary language, “white” skin, Christianity, physically able, male, economic resources and heterosexuality.
©Sujata Warrier Cultural Context Privileges and access arise from having one or more of the above attributes of identity. Privilege includes not having to recognize own culture as norm, access to resources, connections and status. Privileges for one group can create the dynamics of domination.
©Sujata Warrier Cultural Context Domination begins with half-truths, misinformation, lies about persons based on differences. Misinformation becomes ingrained in society and others are thought to be deficient and eventually the target group internalizes the misinformation.
©Sujata Warrier Working Assumptions (Con’t) CULTURALLY COMPETENT ASSUMPTIONS: All cultures are contradictory in that there are both widespread acceptance of family violence as part of society and traditions of resistance. All cultures include values that are oppressive as well as those that are protective of individuals. Each victim is not only a member of her/his community, but a unique individual with their own responses. The complexity of a person’s response to violence is shaped by multiple factors. Each individual comes into an encounter with any system with cultural experiences and perspectives that might differ from those in that particular system. All institutions within particular systems have to develop specific policies and procedures to systematically build cultural competence.
©Sujata Warrier Working Assumptions CULTURALLY COMPETENT ASSUMPTIONS: All cultures are contradictory in that there are both widespread acceptance of domestic violence as part of society and traditions of resistance. Each victim is not only a member of her/his community, but a unique individual with their own responses. The complexity of a person’s response to domestic violence is shaped by multiple factors. Each individual comes into any encounter with cultural experiences and perspectives that might differ from those present in the system. All institutions have to develop specific policies and procedures to systematically build cultural competence.
©Sujata Warrier Cultural Competency Begins With: Being aware of one’s biases, prejudices and knowledge about a victim. For example, –Challenge your assumptions. –Use appropriate language. –Be aware of assumptions of family. Recognizing professional power and avoiding the imposition of those values. For example, –Use non-judgmental questions Listen to the victim. For example, –Let them narrate their story. –Do not assume people have resources.
©Sujata Warrier CULTURAL COMPETENCY BEGINS WITH: Gathering information about the victim’s interpretation of their culture. For example in assessment: –“what is it like for you to talk about this problem in your community?” Validating the victim’s strengths. For example in intervention: –thank them for sharing and acknowledge existing support systems and efforts to keep safe.
©Sujata Warrier CULTURAL COMPETENCY BEGINS WITH: Insuring victim safety and self- determination. For example, –Safety plans that take into account culturally specific needs. Developing linkages with the community. For example, –Give culturally appropriate referrals. –Work with community based agencies. Negotiating the acceptance of a different set of values. For example, –Remember, it takes time for people to accept new systems and ideas. –Patience is the key.
©Sujata Warrier “World Travelling 1 ” method of Cultural Competency Culturally challenging practices require a vision of independence and connectedness: –understanding oneself in one’s own historical context with an emphasis on the overlaps, influences, and conditions one observes in the other. –Understand one’s historical relationship to the other - see the self as the other sees you –must see the other in their own context. Arrogant perception creates distance between oneself and “the Other”. 1 Gunning, Isabella “Female Genital Surgeries,” Columbia Human Rights Law Review 23(2):
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