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Generalists Social Work and Rape Survivors

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Introduction

Generalist social work practice is one of the conceptual framework developed to guide social workers on social delivery. This approach was developed following the Milford conferences in 1990s. By definition, generalist social work entails a way of viewing practice. It focus on the association between system, on a client-centered and use of appropriate theories and approaches meant to improve people’s well being (Council on Social Work Education 2008). It is always expected that the social work should entail multifaceted approach and that any social worker employing generalist perspective must be ready to engage in direct and indirect intervention based on multilevel assessment (Council on Social Work Education 2008). The generalist social work is also expected to be client-centered and problem-focused in process of helping the client advance social functioning. It should be based on research.

As it shall turn out, generalist social worker must be able to skillfully select and apply multifaceted intervention modes and should carry out multilevel assessments and intervene at one or more levels depending on client situation. A generalist social worker should be well-versed with the individual, group, family, community and institutional intervention methods. Generalists social worker should be competent in different treatment skills (Council on Social Work Education 2008). He or she should be able to intervene with complex activities than only referral and should engage in the full spectrum of direct services. He should be even competent in policy and program development, organizational and community development. The generalists social worker should work based on evidence based research rather than traditional chores, which comprises only of referral

Generalists social work should help different groups in the society experiencing social problems or needs. Rape victims are example of individuals who need the assistance of the generalist social worker. Victims of violent crimes are most vulnerable to many conditions and should be assisted accordingly (Council on Social Work Education 2008). Social workers are expected to identify these victims and take necessary and appropriate measures to assist them recover from trauma. Before exploring the generalists social work practice with victims if violent crime, this paper will first elaborate who the victims of violent crimes and why they deserve special attention from generalist social worker.

Rapeis a form of forced sexual intercourse whereby the resistance of the female is prevented by threats of great and immediate bodily harm such as use of knife or gun. It is very common crime. The choice of this group of victims is prompted by the fact that rape is one of the most serious assault and is characterized by stigmatization (Council on Social Work Education 2008). In fact the victims of rape may decide not to seek any medical assistance because of the stigma. In addition, rape is not only associated with physical injuries but also with the psychological torture and trauma. Fortunately, rape victims may seek help from multiple formal social systems, which include the legal, medical, and mental health system including the rape crisis centers (Council on Social Work Education 2008). This means that the victims of rape deserve special assistance from social workers.

Rape also takes place mainly when there is political instabilities. For example, Ghitis (2010) reveals that in any battle ground, rape must take place. He adds that possibly millions of women who have suffered rape during wars are now telling their stories and taking action with the help of legal specialists and women's rights groups. History also justifies that sexual assault inevitably accompanies armed conflict and war. In fact some researchers has used rape to mean a weapon of war and as a phenomenon with important tactical and strategic dimensions (Council on Social Work Education 2008). For example, rape during Bosnian War was used to change the ethnic make-up of the conquered territory. Similarly, rape during Rwandan genocide was strategically done to clear Tutsi population. In Rwanda, for example, the number of rape victims is estimated to be about 500,000.

The incidence and frequency of rape is also significantly high. The study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveals that a rape case occurs in every ten minutes but is underreported. The analysis also shows that 1 in every 15 women will be raped sometime during her life if the current trend continues. It is also important to note that most of the attention is focused on the rapists. Most policies are designed to punish the rapists. Little has been done to help the rape victims. Rape being a social factor, generalist social worker is considered the most appropriate person to assist the rape victims. The next section of the paper presents the intervention that the generalist social work profession can make to address or intervene in the problem of rape. The analysis would be based on the framework proposed by the Council on Social Work Education, which places emphasis on the use of evidence to inform practice and practice to inform research (Council on Social Work Education 2008). According to the CSWE, the generalists social work should take the role of a broker, an advocate, a mediator, educator, social actionist and also as a clinician (Council on Social Work Education 2008).

Evidence based practice of generalists social worker in helping rape victims

As indicated, the general social work practice should no longer entail the traditional roles such as referral. Firstly, the generalists should diagnose and identify the needs of the rape survivors or victims that should be addressed. There are many problems that the rape victims could wish to be solved. The first need is that most rape victims may encounter rape ordeal when they were not expecting. This means that the need to be informed about what to do and where to seek medical, mental health and social and legal services (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). The second need is that after medical treatment, the rape victim needs to go through professional counselling for emotional trauma and its consequent social disruption. They also need legal assistances in aspects such as information about rights, advocacy and representation in the criminal justice system. Rape is also associated with consequences such as unwanted pregnancy and also HIV and other venereal diseases. They need thorough intervention on these matters (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). Based on these needs, it is apparent that rape victims needs a comprehensive range of services from different fields such as law, mental health, and social life. The only challenge is that most of the rape victims are in a state of extreme emotional crisis. They are not prepared to go through all these fields and may even have little knowledge on what to do altogether.

Generalist social worker act as a coordinator and referee

Generalist social worker is considered an integral agency who should take the responsibility for developing the program and for organizing and coordinating additional support services. Social worker should be the one to guide the victim of rape on where to seek primary care and where to seek the secondary care. It is indisputable that many services may be available in the community already. However, accessing these services may be the major obstacle. Generalist social worker, according to Council on Social Work Education (2008), should be the one addressing the obstacles barring the rape victim from accessing the appropriate services. The generalist social worker should act as a coordinator and should bridge different facilities with an aim of improving management of rape victims. For example, the hospitals may be ready to manage patients and families in crisis but may face financial limitation as an obstacle and hence may not be able to sypport all the services necessary for a comprehensive rape-treatment program (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). However, with the intervention or help of generalist social work, the victims can get assistance from the financial programs and facilities that are meant to aid the patient in accessing necessary treatment. Generalist social work is therefore acting as a coordinator who should coordinate different programs together and also as a referral agent who should refer the victims to the relevant services.

Generalist social work as a counselor

Council on Social Work Education (2008) considers counselling as an integral part evidence based practice in the management of rape victims or rape survivors. The experiences that such victim go following disclosure of their problems is always unbearable. It has been shown that most of them undergo different forms of victimization. They also receive insensitive treatment, survivor blame and most of them are not offered adequate social services. All these can worsen their state of health. In fact it has been shown that most of them undergo what is called second rape or second sexual assault based on the nature of victimization they experience (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). For example, it has been shown that survivors experience with medical and criminal justice agencies closely mimic the nature and /or dynamics of actual rape experiences and can be even more re-traumatizing Collings, 2009). The generalist social work is meant to counsel the rape victims on the best way of containing the situation.

The generalist social work should offer appropriate counselling to the rape survivors and make them understand the situation and also value the importance of social services. There generalist social work should be a source of hope to the rape survivors because they usually receive a lot of resistance not only from society but even from their mothers, in case the rape survivor is a child (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). They should help the rape survivors recover from the otherwise second rape by counselling them that their future is still bright and assuring them that there exists many social services apart from the medical services that can be utilized (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). During counselling process, the counsellor should provide the victim of rape with current data regarding the value and responsiveness of the support services. They should also help in educational process. They can, for example give seminars on the emotional trauma of rape. It is always important for social worker to be knowledgeable about the criminal justice system.

Generalist social worker as a clinician in helping rape survivors

As stated earlier, generalists social worker should have clinical competence. Rape victims or survivors normally require medical assistance. Despite the fact that there are hospitals, those working in the hospital may not have enough expertise to handle the rape victims. Many researchers have proved that healthcare providers are not trained on how to handle the case of rape victims (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). For example, instead of sympathizing and emphasizing with them, the healthcare practitioners may victimize the rape survivors. This is evidenced by the study by Collings (2009), which indicate that most of rape survivors undergo different forms of victimization in the hospitals. They also receive insensitive treatment, survivor blame and most of them are not offered adequate social services.

All these can worsen their state of health. In fact it has been shown that most of them undergo what is called second rape or second sexual assault based on the nature of victimization they experience. For example, it has been shown that survivors experience with with medical and criminal justice agencies closely mimic the nature and /or dynamics of actual rape experiences and can be even more re-traumatizing. This means that generalists social worker could be the best clinician to address the medical needs of the rape survivors because generalist social worker is not only trained in clinical competence but also in how to handle the victim of rape without imposing any form of victimization or secondary rape. Generalist social work should therefore diagnose the physical injuries sustained by rape victim or survivor and administer appropriate intervention. The generalist social worker should also test whether the victim contracted the venereal and STI and administer the appropriate intervention.

Generalist social worker as a broker in helping rape victims

It is indisputable that the rape victims are in need of many resources and services. However, most of them may not have information as to where to obtain such resources and services. It is therefore the role of the generalist social worker to act as a bridge and to let the rape survivors access the required services and resources. As a broker, generalists social worker should not have personal vested interests.

When broking, they should be guided by a number elements. Firstly, they should recognize the victim as an individual with fear and preferences which should be solved at the end of plan or brokerage process. They should also turn the brokerage plan into reality and should take into consideration the risks and benefits of the brokerage process.

Generalists’ social worker as a mediator in helping rape victims

As stated earlier, rape victims undergo different forms of victimization. They also receive insensitive treatment, survivor blame and most of them are not offered adequate social services. It is also shown that survivors experience with medical and criminal justice agencies closely mimic the nature and /or dynamics of actual rape experiences and can be even more re-traumatizing (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). Because of this, most of the rape cases are underreported despite the fact that they occur in every ten minutes.

The stigma and the traumatizing experiences that the rape victims go through prevent them from even seeking medical assistance. Generalists social worker is therefore expected to mediate the process and help make decisions that are meant to benefit the rape survivor. In fact in court cases, the generalist social worker should be the one representing the client.

Ethical considerations

It should be noted that the generalists social worker should work towards benefiting all the affected groups. He or she should promote social justice by ensuring that all members of society access the societal resources that a society offers (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990). They should help the most vulnerable groups in the society. Despite the fact that they may act as brokers, they should not use this role to benefit themselves. They should expand institutional resources such as adequate education, political participation and should strive to promote fairness and respect. They should not cause further trauma to the rape victims (Schatz, Jenkins, & Sheafor, 1990).

It is also important to note that most professionals may defy their professionalism and perceive the rape victim as the cause of problem and hence the professional and personal values conflict. In such case, the generalist social worker should try to maintain his or her professional values.

References

Ghitis, F. (2010). Pushing Back Against Rape as a Weapon of War. World Politics Review (Selective Content), 1.

Collings, S. J. (2009). Where the streets have no names: factors associated with the provision of counselling and social work services for child rape survivors in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 21(2), 139-146.

Schatz, M. S., Jenkins, L. E., & Sheafor, B. W. (1990). Milford Redefined: A Model of Initial and Advanced Generalist Social Work. Journal of Social Work Education, 26(3), 217-231.

Council on Social Work Education. (2008). Education policy and accreditation standards. Retrieved from http://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/2008EPASDescription.aspx


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