Gender-based Violence Training: Helping Yourself to Help Others

For Bassma and Hemin, working in a difficult environment everyday was taking its toll. The emotional strain and demand to be available at all hours of the day, was having an impact on their mental health and their relationships with their families. 

Bassma, 36, is a data collector for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs’ (MoLSA) Planning Department, working at the Correctional Facility for Women and Children in Erbil. “I learned how to practice self-care, how to offer help, and how to be a good listener to everyone. This training has taught me to listen to every one and remain neutral.”

Hemin, 37, is a Major, leading the Movement Department for the Directorate of Combatting Violence Against Women’s (DCVAW) branch in Koya – he’s been working with DCVAW for over 9 years. “I feel my attitude has changed after completing this training; in the way I work with clients. I’ve noticed this in myself. My communication skills have improved, and that has helped in facilitating my duties.”

Bassma and Hemin were two of 135 government personnel to complete training on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Protection with SEED Foundation in 2021/22. The topics that resonated with them both included self-care, communications skills and working with vulnerable clients.

“The changes that I have noticed in myself following the training is that I feel the clients we work with in our office feel more safe and calm when working with us. The clients themselves say ‘you’re different from the other police members’,” explains Hemin, who attests to continually sharing his new knowledge and skills with colleagues, and who believes that all DCVAW staff should go through this training to improve their skills and also improve the quality of services provided to survivors and those at risk of GBV. “I liked the training a lot, it covered important topics such as child rights, the law, self-care, and how to work with women survivors of violence.”

For Bassma too, she felt that her new understanding of how to communicate and support clients enabled her to perform her work better and with greater ease. “The changes that I noticed in myself after participating in the training is that I learned how to deal with clients. For example, I used to view them as suspects or as guilty regardless of the case, but now that has changed. I don’t view them as suspects, I listen to them and try to provide them a safe space.”

Both graduates emphasized the need for greater awareness of the issue of GBV, and felt that this training has enabled them to start the process, by spreading the word amongst their peers. “Awareness raising should be continuous, whether from religious leaders or on TV; to make people aware that there is no difference between genders. I think awareness raising is the number one thing that should continue,” says Bassma. “I was very sad before, but now I’m not. As I mentioned before, SEED has taught me that life continues,” she continues, feeling more optimistic about her work and the potential for positive change in society. 

“We need to continue spreading the word, as the advancement of society depends on this,” exclaims Hemin.