Holly Storm and Sarah Dudley, freshmen
The Charleston Church Shootings. The televised murder of two journalists. The various college shootings. This is how Dean Glasgow introduced The Sixth Annual Rita M. McGinley Symposium, “The Face of the Person who has Experienced Violence” which was held on Thursday, October 22-23, sponsored by Duquesne University’s School of Nursing.
Dean, Mary Ellen Glasgow opened the symposium saying that this year’s symposium is a way to stop the violence that our nation has experienced.
The morning began with Dr. Jackie Campbell’s speech on holistic approaches in treating those who have experienced violence. She was an incredibly informative and persuasive speaker. It was an incredibly informative speech and really was really insightful into the needs of these unique patients.
Next, the Plenary Panel was a group of three community members discussing how to deal with the violence in the communities in Pittsburgh and different aspects of the impact the violence has on the community. The speakers included Malik G. Bankston, the executive director of The Kingsley Association which deals with communities of Pittsburgh and tries to help them get back on their feet, Paul Abernathy, the director of Focus Pittsburgh which is a Christian organization that tries give sustainable and action-oriented options to communities in the United States, and Walter Howard Smith who is the Clinical Director and Deputy Director Office of Children, Youth, and Families. This panel was informative as to what was happening to the community and how the people are suffering while also having the panelists give their own opinions on ways to heal the community, which stems from their individual backgrounds such as sustainability, not letting people suffer alone, and empowering people.
Fawn Robinson, an academic advisor in the School of Nursing, also gave a speech titled “Black America: Facing the Realities of Violence Impacting the Black Community”. It was a favorite of the symposium because of her passion for this important topic. She spoke about the incredible violence that the black community has faced and even mentioned taking part in the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“The reality is that being African American is not an easy road,” she said in her speech, “It is not. Not with my fancy suit and not with a PhD.”
Robinson’s speech evoked many emotions from the audience, prompting some black members to give personal experiences with racism and bigotry. It was very moving and really very eye opening.
Carol Powell, who was a nurse and trains other nurses to handle sexual assault, was next up in line for speeches. She spoke about sexual violence and her experiences caring for this patient population. The overall theme of the presentation was the role of the nurse in these situations. Powell discussed the importance of documentation and advocacy. This presentation was very powerful and moving as she spoke from experience and the heart while also being educational for nurses on how to delicately care these patients.
There were many breakout sessions, but the two that stood out the most were presented by Samantha Caravino and Kathleen Sekula.
The breakout session “Emergence of Gender Inequitable Practice in Adolescence: Innovative Models”, was an incredible presentation by Samantha Caravino, a Clinical Research Coordinator from University of Pittsburgh. She reported on a study she has been conducting that found 81% of high school seniors have reported being a witness to an abusive relationship. She also reported that a group of middle schoolers felt it necessary to share the sentence: “Belts are for discipline, but extension cords are for abuse”. This was a very moving session and really got one thinking about children and violence.
Kathleen Sekula, one of the leading developers of the Masters of Science in Forensic Nursing program at Duquesne, explained a study conducted by one of her students, Julie Valentine, in Utah. Valentine found that in Salt Lake City, on 6% of Sexual Assault Kits have been pushed through from the police station to the crime analysis lab, and many police officers had reported that the victim was “stuttering, forgetful, and out-of-it”, which are all symptoms of being traumatized. The study has resulted in increased funding in educating police on violence victims, and increasing the percent of kits that are being analyzed.
The Face of the Person who has Experienced Violence Symposium was a huge success with many interesting sessions. It was successful because it covered so many topics from domestic violence to violence in the LGBTQ community to vulnerable populations in violence. It focused overall on the topic of violence while also having panels talking about how this relates specifically to the city of Pittsburgh. They did not leave any stone unturned and they will do the same next year which make it a hit again. We are so glad that we attended, and highly encourage everyone to attend next year!