Just Between You and Me: A Peer Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) Programme for Women in Family Violence Situations

APPENDIX "C" - JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME
A Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI)
Manual for Training Peers of Abused Women

CURRICULUM OUTLINE

This manual is intended for use with the accompanying booklet "Just Between You and Me: A PLEI Handbook for Peers of Abused Women". It is intended for the use of PLEI delivery to peers of battered women in the Sault Ste. Marie area. Due to the community demographics, the programme emphasizes the needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women. Adjustments would be required to address the needs of larger urban centres with a larger immigrant population. It is intended for use with the accompanying manual "Just Between You and Me: A PLEI Handbook for Peers of Abused Women".

December, 2003

Please see the accompanying handbook "Just Between You and Me: A PLEI Handbook for Peers of Abused Women" for copies of the resources listed.

Section I: Using this Manual

This manual is intended for use with the accompanying manual "Just Between You and Me: A PLEI Handbook for Peers of Abused Women". It is intended for the use of PLEI delivery to peers of battered women in the Sault Ste. Marie area. Due to the community demographics, the programme emphasizes the needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women. Adjustments would be required to address the needs of larger urban centres with a larger immigrant population.

Background to the Project:

The Public Legal Education and Information needs of women who experience family violence are well documented and immense. Women who experience family violence do so in the "private and unsupported environments." (United Way, 1998) of their own homes. Thus reaching women with the PLEI which they so desperately need, is very challenging. Transition houses, leaders in identifying the high risk of physical injury facing victims of family violence, have used a number of ingenious methods to reach women safely, including putting emergency numbers in tampon dispensers.

Some women, such as newcomers to Canada, those with disabilities, or those in rural or northern communities where there are few services, are particularly vulnerable. The nature of family violence, where the perpetrator purposefully isolates the victim, means that there are particular barriers in accessing PLEI, which is compounded when the victim lives in a small community such as a First Nation or due to her youth is less aware of services.

Women want, and often need, to know about a number of legal issues, particularly family law issues such as custody and support, criminal law as it pertains to stalking, harassment and assault, and for new Canadians, immigration law. A recent study also indicated that for some women, knowledge of the Young Offenders' Act (and its proposed changes) is also a high priority (McDonald, 2000).

In response to this need, victims' and legal services have developed a wide array of PLEI materials (see CLEO, for example). These have been translated into several languages and a number of strategies have been employed to disseminate them, such as advertising, pamphlets, brochures, the Internet.

Often however, the victim is unable to access and/or use the information. This may be due to the difficulty posed by the "private and unsupported spaces" within which the violence occurs, or it may be due to the trauma of the violence itself. There has been very little research on learning and the law for those who have experienced violence or trauma, but some case studies would indicate that trauma may in fact substantially impair the victims' ability to retain essential information (Broad, 2002, McDonald, 2000).

The research that does exist indicates that women do, and want to learn through one another, by word-of-mouth, and given the isolationist nature of family violence, this may be the best way of reaching these individuals. Research indicates, however, that learning about the law in this manner often results in information that is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date.

Why Peer Learning?

Peer learning works because:

  • Trust is easily established – because of similar situations, because they share common characteristics (language, gender, background), because they are not government;
  • There is immediate empathy for the situation (the peer may have experienced family violence herself, or knows someone who has);
  • The peer has learned through experience;
  • The peer is immediately accessible (in the park, at the hairdresser's, picking up the children at school).

If provided with training and appropriate support,

  • Information provided is accurate, complete and up-to-date;
  • Information is provided in the language of choice:
  • Information provided is timely;
  • Information is delivered in cost-effective way

General Programme Format:

The training for the peers has been divided into eight sessions, each session intended to last approximately three hours. The format for each session is designed to provide peers with a safe, comfortable setting where they will feel free to ask questions and develop an awareness of their own learning and perceptual changes. With the exception of the first introductory class, each week will proceed according to the following format:

  1. Welcome and thank you – 2 minutes
  2. Getting connected – 15 minutes (a check-in as to what has happened in the last week, where people are at, etc)
  3. Breaking a bias exercise (addressing some of the most common misperceptions and biases about woman abuse and legal issues)
  4. Information presentation – 40 minutes (this will include a question and answer period)
  5. Break – 15 minutes
  6. Interactive learning exercise – 60 minutes (this will alternate between small group discussions, role plays, practice interviews, etc., providing an opportunity for peers to practice "hands-on" skills)
  7. Sharing/Caring – 30 minutes (opportunity for peers to examine what they have learned/experienced over the course of this class)
  8. Closing – 3 minutes

Section II: Course Outline

Session I: Introduction

Session Objectives:
  • Develop a sense of camaraderie and safety within the classroom setting (buddy system, format of classes).
  • Ensure that Indigenous peers feel comfortable and welcomed (Indigenous facilitator and intro).
  • Peers learn background to the project.
  • Peers experience feeling of empowerment regarding their input into course (valuing of their input).
ACTIVITY PRESENTER/FACILITATOR
Welcome Connie, Gisele, Gayle
Introductions – Tell us about 3 networks to which you belong Gayle
Background to Just Between You and Me
(Section I of Handbook Materials)
Gayle
Significance of peer participation Gayle and Connie
Establish "Buddy System"* Connie and Gisele
Orientation to Peer Handbook Gisele
Break and Orientation to Algoma University College Gisele and Gayle
Focus Group – Identifying peer learning needs** Anna Hagerty (Evaluator) and Gayle
Closing Circle Gisele and Connie

*The "Buddy System" was suggested by the Advisory Group as a method of keeping peers in contact with one another in between the weekly sessions. Buddies would be expected to talk with one another at least once in between classes, and debrief with one another following the sessions.

**The Evaluator will be looking for ways in which peers' level of knowledge have changed through attendance and participation in "Just Between You and Me". The Evaluator will look for growth in attitudes, perceptions and knowledge.

NB: The curriculum may change somewhat depending on the information gathered by the focus group conducted in this first session. Data gathered will be discussed by the Advisory Group to the project to determine what adjustments, if any, need to be made to subsequent sessions.

Session II: Violence Against Women

Session Objectives:
  1. Peers are able to define several different types of woman abuse.
  2. Peers are able to identify abuse on a spectrum of violence.
  3. Peers are able to identify the structural abuse of women in society.
  4. Peers are able to identify abuse in their own lives.
  5. Peers' perception of feminism is one of equality-seeking.
ACTIVITY PRESENTER/FACILITATOR
Welcome & thank you Connie
Getting connected Connie
"Fact or Myth" Gisele
Presentation – Warning signs of abuse, power and control, equality wheel Gisele
Break – 15 min.
Small group discussion – Does this information change my perception of woman abuse? How? Connie & Gisele
Sharing/Caring - Where am I on the oppression wheel? What kind of feminist am I? Gisele & Connie
Closing Circle Connie
Resource Materials:
  1. "Fact or Myth" – Interval House of Hamilton-Wentworth.
  2. "Dispelling the Myths" – Women In Crisis (Algoma)
  3. Power and Control and Equality wheels
  4. "The Cycle of Violence "– Women's Outreach, Sault Ste. Marie
  5. "Definitions of Abuse" – Women In Crisis (Algoma)
  6. "Stalkers and Stalking" – http://www.antistalking.com/aboutstalkers.htm
  7. "Are you in an abusive situation?" Women In Crisis (Algoma)
  8. "Why Do Women Remain in Abusive Relationships" – Women's Program Centre for Spanish-speaking peoples, May 1994.
  9. "Life Patterns of Canadian Women" – Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1990. A report by the National Council of Welfare, Women and Poverty Revisited. Ottawa : Summer 1990.
  10. "Wife Assault/Assault of Female Partners" – Women In Crisis (Algoma)
  11. "Family Violence in Canada : Facts" http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/familyviolence/html/1facts.html
  12. "Words that count women in" – Ontario Women's Directorate
  13. "Definitions of Feminism" – Nancy Hartsock
  14. "Various Types of Feminism" - unknown
  15. "The Women's Movement: A Brief His(her)story – unknown
  16. "People call me a Feminist…" Rebecca West
  17. "Feminism" – unknown
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