Our latest documentary film; Time To Respond was launched on 21st June 2018, by the Mental Health Minister, Maureen Watt.
The documentary highlights good practice when working with survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse who suffer from Postnatal Depression. The woman talk with great honesty and courage about their experiences of good and bad practice.
The screening of the film and the question and answer session that followed, led to lots of discussion about how to further influence and develop good practice. The many health and social care professionals in the audience, were keen to comment on the personal and professional aspects of the survivors experience.
Comments on the event included:
“An amazing afternoon, very emotional. I bought the film as a present for a team.” – Nurse Practitioner
“Congratulations on this afternoon’s event, it was truly a significant occasion. My congratulations to you and Sitar, and especially those wonderfully brave women.”
“The film was wonderful, you are both doing such important work.”
“I wanted to say how much I admired and respected the courage of the women who were willing to share their stories. What you have done is so strong and so necessary, and so beautifully handled.”
“Congratulations on something which is so necessary and will help people understand so much more, what is needed.”
The women involved in the film were given a standing ovation by the audience and we finished with a contribution from Dr. Sarah Nelson, copy of speech below:
“This is a very important and timely film, which needs to be shown widely to medical professionals, a film which shows the commitment and informed understanding of the filmmakers and the courageous women who took part. My own research projects at Edinburgh University and my work with support groups repeatedly gave evidence that women who survived sexual abuse have much higher rates of postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis than women as a whole. I am not talking about the “baby blues” which lasts usually a short time and affects many women after childbirth, but the more serious, prolonged and repeated end of the spectrum of these conditions.
I believe that, spurred by this film survivors and all who support them need to campaign strongly now for professionals in medicine, in psychiatry and psychology to re-examine their assumptions that this is to do either with hormones or with biogenetic causes of mental illness. There has been the usual reluctance to think again on this, because of the power of the biogenetic model and the power of the pharmaceutical companies. I believe instead they need urgently to look at the possibility that this is not some unique event, but depression or psychosis at a particular time of life, triggered by the experiences surrounding pregnancy and childbirth and the traumatic memories of sexual violence which can often be unleashed. These include the range of intrusive physical experiences in medical settings, often reminiscent of sexual assault, the helplessness and powerlessness involved in Western methods of delivery, and the range of emotions and traumatic memories which so often happen. That includes for some women a sense of dread that their own baby may become a victim of CSA, and/ or that they will not be able to protect her or him.
That has repercussions for good practice by all the relevant professionals- by sensitively “asking the question” during pregnancy, by checking for and responding helpfully to fears that women may have in both pregnancy and childbirth, by educating themselves to recognise the release of traumatic memories, by considering the need for therapeutic support after the birth, by actually listening to what women may say and reveal in a psychotic episode (and taking it seriously instead of dismissing it as wanderings or fantasy), and by funding research projects which actively explore the connections between a sexual abuse history and postnatal depression or psychosis. This is likely to spare present and future women not only the extent of trauma and pain survivors can experience around pregnancy and childbirth; but to reduce or remove the risk that some may lose the right to look after their own child, a child who is very precious to them.”
ONGOING WORK SINCE TIME TO RESPOND LAUNCH
Since the launch of Time to Respond in June 2018, we have been funded by the Scottish Government to promote and distribute the film. We have been focussing on Health Visitor and Nursing Courses in Universities around Scotland. We have enjoyed lively and productive discussions with hundreds of students on the topic of childhood sexual abuse and the barriers involved in disclosing and responding.
This was with student nurses and practice teachers at Glasgow Caledonian University and with nursing students at Dundee University as well as their Kirkcaldy campus.
On Monday 13 May, there was a documentary screening at the Maternal Mental Health Scotland 6th Annual Conference in Glasgow. The audience comprised of professionals involved in Peri-natal Mental Health both in the statuory and voluntary sectors. The focus of the discussion being a fear amongst staff of getting it wrong and making things worse for survivors and the difficulty in finding training.
Comments about the film were that it should be shown to every staff group in health and social work and that it was so true to survivors’ experience.