Women who have been traumatised by violence suffer from a great variety of symptoms. These very symptoms are mostly what sooner or, as is generally rather the case, later makes them seek help. So they may go to a doctor's practice hoping for relief from their physical symptoms, or to a psychosocial counselling service, e.g. because of problems coping with daily life or taking care of their children. In most cases, they will be treated well and find advice for their concrete problem. Yet occasionally, traumatised persons behave in such an incomprehensible, disturbing manner that even helpers with the best intentions withdraw in resignation. Usually, though, the specific cause is not brought to light and therefore remains unidentified. The helpers know too little about gender-based violence and about the consequences of such violence. They are little informed about post-traumatic stress disorder in women due to an experience of violence.
The European Trauma Network intends to disseminate such knowledge. Its aim is to ensure that all professional groups that are in any way involved in health and social care for women will recognize certain alarm signals. Fact is that women who are traumatised or victims of violence often have severe problems approaching the matter of experiencing violence of their own accord, although they tend to be prepared to open up if a doctor or social worker takes the first step. For this to happen, the relevant professionals must be able to recognize the signals and know in what way to intervene.
The training programme developed by initiators of this Network is short and provides practice-related knowledge about PTSD in women as a consequence of violence experienced. It is not necessary to become a PTSD expert to be able to take action and help women affected. But only a trained eye can recognize the causes generating the symptoms.
The training materials are available in all languages of the EU. They have been tested successfully and evaluated for effectiveness and long-term effect by the Network's initiators. Today the materials are in use in altogether 26 EU member countries.
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