Mentors help female survivors of abuse or domestic violence

Mentors help female survivors of abuse or domestic violence

By Liz Lockhart

A programme of mentoring can significantly help female college students who have experienced childhood abuse or domestic violence, according to new Canadian research.

The research has been conducted by Concordia University and is published in the Journal of College Student Development.

Rosemary C. Reilly, Ph.D., the first author of the study said ‘Studies have shown that childhood abuse unleashes a chain of negative emotions that can impact an individual’s future, producing feelings of shame, isolation, self-loathing and educational under achievement.’

Childhood abuse is described as physical, psychological or sexual maltreatment during childhood.  This study adds to previous evidence which suggests that 20% of all women (at least) are survivors of childhood abuse.  Experts say that as many as half of all the women in education in Canada are trying to study whilst coping with the effects of violence.

Ten women participants were questioned by researchers in a detailed interview.  Each participant had experienced intense childhood abuse.  They were also in an undergraduate programme when they were interviewed.  Nine of the participants had been mentored at some stage of their life.  It was found that the timing of mentoring was important.  Timing was contingent on the impact that the abuse had on one’s sense of identity.

Four major themes emerged from mentorship, investigators found.  These themes are:

  • Fantasy mentors
  • Mentors as mirrors
  • Mentors as nurturers and supporters
  • Mentors as embodiments of a particular profession

The researchers feel that these themes demonstrate the malleable nature of mentorship.  However, they caution that the themes should be viewed as atypical.  They feel that they enrich the understanding of mentoring for women who have experienced violence.  In its different guises the mentoring played a significant part in the healing processes for these women, the researchers feel.

The authors of the study also believe that the results should encourage universities to establish a formalised mentoring programme for trauma survivors.  This could be delivered by student services departments by providing support to this category of students by creating multiple opportunities for mentorship from different individuals as the survivors’ needs unfold.

Reilly said ‘For survivors of childhood abuse, relationship and connection are what really matters and what successful mentorship is all about.

Source: Concordia University 

Your rating: None Average: 10 (1 vote)