#metoo - What Doulas Need to Know

Did you see our Facebook Live? No? It’s awesome. Go watch it. 😊

(In the Facebook live we with spoke with Alexis Milneck Edwards, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and doula with Birth360. As we talked, she stated that she would provide resources for  birth workers to read more about serving women with a history of sexual trauma and about the resources out there for doulas and families. This is her follow up!)

Here was the gist. #metoo isn’t perfect. There were things I liked about it and things I didn’t. Ultimately though, it created conversation which is the only way to inspire action and facilitate change. Birth workers have a tremendous opportunity to shift the narrative around sexual assault and this is exactly why I believe we need to pay attention to this movement. BEST Doula is cranking out world changers after all! So how do we do it?

In my opinion birth workers need to be implementing 4 basic things:

  1. The question. We need to include it on our intakes. You don’t have to hear the details of her assault, but including it gives a survivor the opportunity to disclose, gives space to hear how you can more compassionately support her, and allows us to refer to the appropriate resource for healing. Asking it not only communicates you are a safe person, but also shifts the cultural norm from silencing survivors to validating them.

  2. Basic knowledge on supportive responses for survivors. Again, survivors are frequently silenced. They are told in blatant and subtle ways that they are to blame for their pain and just need to move on. We can shift victim blaming mentality by approaching our work with empathy and compassion and providing simple, important validating responses when survivors disclose. Thank you for sharing with me. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s not your fault. You are not to blame. You did not deserve this.

  3. Basic knowledge of triggers. This is one of the main ways birth workers and care providers can provide more compassionate support. Seek understanding and education around triggers, what they are, what they might look like, and create conversation about how these might manifest in birth or postpartum.

  4. Know the right resources. You don’t want to refer to any therapist or support group. Research what resources exist in your area and create a list specific to survivors. Find therapists that have training and expertise in trauma and that practice evidence based interventions for survivors. How can you find these resources? Both national hotlines have advocates available that can provide referrals in your area. Once you figure out what your area has to offer, give them a call to learn more about the specific services they offer.

    1. National DV Hotline, 1-800-799-7233

    2. RAINN, 1-800-656-4673

    3. Love is Respect, Text loveis to 22522

    4. OneLove

Other resources for survivors and/or the people that care about them:

  • Books:

    • When Survivors Give Birth

    • The Body Keeps the Score

    • Helping Her Get Free

    • Why Does He Do That

  • Films:

    • The Hunting Ground