I applied for a Iolanthe Midwifery Trust Midwives Award and was delighted to find out in November 2019 that I was one of the winners. During my midwifery career, in clinical practice and then in education, I have always wanted to raise awareness of the importance of providing optimal care for women who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence.
I had previously been supported by my employer, Bangor University, to visit the MyBodyBack project in London and had been very inspired to hear about their specialist service. In my teaching role I had also made links with a local charity Stepping Stones, one of the Survivors Trust umbrella organisations, and for several years they had provided a session for our student midwives and PG students taking a Contraception and Associated Health module.
I wanted to share the learning that I had been fortunate enough to gain with others. I was supported by the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust to organise a free online study day, called ‘Providing optimal care for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence’. The event was advertised on Eventbrite:
All of the speakers generously gave their time to support the day, and as the event was held online no travel costs were needed. Through my previous contacts I knew the academic and clinical practice orientated speakers that I wanted to approach, however I knew that I also wanted to highlight the voice of women throughout the day.
It was the voice of women that had first shown me that maternity care providers must learn how to provide appropriate care to victims and survivors - those who had shared their experiences with their care provider, and those that had not.
It was doula and women’s rights activist Paula Cleary and doula and author Kiki Hansard that helped me to do this by inviting several women survivors that they knew to speak with the attendees. When the advert went live on Twitter there was a lot of interest, and the initial 50 tickets that I released went almost immediately.
I’m appreciative that you have put this together. Thank you.
I’m so looking forward to it. Such an important subject
Will you be hosting further study day? Have just seen it is sold out. This is my dissertation subject
Let us know if you repeat this / if it is available to stream after the event as it is already sold out
Because of the interest I increased the ticket numbers to 100, so that more people could attend. Looking at the Eventbrite register I could see that the majority of attendees were midwives or student midwives, but there were also a range of other professionals attending, in particular psychologists.
The study day was held on the 5 March 2021, and the programme is shown below:
About 60 people joined on the day, and it all went really well – aside from the usual IT glitches! I hope that the midwives and student midwives who attended, along with the other professionals, have taken something away from the day that they can apply to their practice. I know that a few connections were formed amongst the attendees and hope that these will be helpful to them in their roles. Afterwards I received feedback from several of the attendee midwives:
Thank you Jude. It was a great day with lots that I have learnt and will take away and apply to my practice
Thank you to for organising Jude and all who spoke. I learned so much
Afterwards I sent out a document with resources and suggesting reading list to all of the attendees, and also to all of those who had contacted me about being unable to get a ticket. Lots of these were student midwives who were choosing to explore this topic for their dissertations.
Some of the ideas were to access the Handbook of Sensitive Care for Healthcare Practitioners, Kicki Hansard’s book Supporting Survivors of Sexual Abuse Through Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Guide for Midwives, Doulas and Other Healthcare Professionals, and the NHS Scotland e-learning module ‘One out of Four’ [unfortunately this is no longer accessible outside of NHS Scotland].
Thank you again to the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust for supporting me. Since the study day I have completed a post-graduate module at the London Metropolitan University ‘Sexual Violence: Causes, Consequences and Interventions’.
My hope is in the future to be able to contribute further to this vital aspect of midwifery practice.