Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Intimate Partner Abuse Increases Postpartum Mental Health Issues for Women

Partner Abuse Ups Postpartum Mental Health Issues

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 29, 2014. PsychCentral. 

New research links a history of intimate partner abuse to postpartum mental health problems and suggests providers should heighten monitoring of new mothers.

Investigators examined associations of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse experienced by 100 English-speaking mothers in British Columbia, aged 18 years and older, in the first three months of their postpartum period.

The study is published online in the open-access journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Even though the abuse was typically minor in nature, such as name-calling, any type of intimate partner abuse — before or during pregnancy — was linked to higher than normal levels of postpartum mental health problems.

Forty-seven percent of all women who participated in the study experienced at least moderate mental health symptoms.

The participants were largely from high socioeconomic backgrounds and were not considered at high risk of postpartum mental health problems.

“I think when people hear the word abuse they automatically think about physical abuse,” said Ashley Pritchard, a Simon Fraser University doctoral student who interviewed the study’s participants and helped recruit them.

“This research shows that different types of abuse have negative consequences and should be part of routine health checks for new mothers.”

In addition to questions about their general health and wellbeing, participants answered questions about their experiences of intimate partner abuse and about their mental health during their postpartum period.

Their symptoms, which included depression, stress, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were above normal levels and were triggered by specific types of abuse.

For example, psychological abuse — verbal and emotional — was associated with stress and PTSD. 

Physical abuse was associated with depression, OCD, and PTSD. Sexual abuse was associated with OCD.

Multivariate modeling also showed that as the number of types of intimate partner abuse experienced increased — especially during pregnancy — so did the number of different types of postpartum mental health problems, and their severity.

The authors say their findings underscore the complex risks and needs associated with intimate partner abuse among postpartum women, regardless of socioeconomic background.

Recognizing that it would be challenging to achieve, the authors recommend that healthcare providers screen new mothers more intensely for intimate partner abuse.

“Educating both the public and health care professionals about the prevalence and effects of intimate partner abuse would help to diminish the stigma surrounding the issue,” said Pritchard.

“In addition to education, the development of strong rapport and trust between mothers-to-be and their healthcare providers would likely make it easier to discuss topics such as partner abuse openly.”

The authors advocate that further studies investigate intervention and prevention strategies.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Family Law Act Ruling: Unmarried Couples & Property Division

FLA case law, property division and unmarried couples

When the Family Law Act (FLA) was announced at the end of 2012, many people pointed out a quirk in the law that would effect unmarried couples who split up between March 18, 2011 and March 18, 2013. As a general rule, laws do not affect events from before they came into force. However, the way the FLA was written means that it applied to unmarried couples who split up as far back as March 11, 2011.

Up until now, it has been unclear whether the court system would interpret the act this way. A recent ruling, Meservy v. Field, has confirmed that this is indeed how the law will work.

The old Family Relations Act did not consider unmarried couples to be spouses under any circumstances, and so did not allow them to follow those rules for dividing property. Instead, they would have to start a Supreme Court case under the existing rules about unjust enrichment to try and divide property when they split up.

The FLA considers unmarried couples to be spouses as long as they have been living in a “marriage-like” relationship for at least two years.

It also gives couples two years from the date they split up to start an application with the court to divide property. 

This means that unmarried couples who split up before the FLA came into force (on March 18, 2013) could file for the division of property using the FLA rules as long as they:
  • split up after March 18, 2011, and
  • it hasn’t been more than two years since the split.

How to Obtain a Court-appointed lawyer in Child Protection Cases


How to Get a Court-Appointed Lawyer for Your Child Protection Case

Legal Services Society. (2013).

This new publication is for people facing a complicated child protection hearing who’ve been denied legal aid but can’t afford a lawyer. The booklet explains in plain language (and appealing graphics) why and how you can make a “JG application” for a free court-appointed lawyer. The two necessary forms are included right in the booklet, clearly explained and perforated for easy removal. Also includes what to say and do in court at the JG application hearing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Your Rights on Reserve: A Legal Tool-Kit for Aboriginal Women in BC

“Your Rights on Reserve” a Legal Tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in British Columbia

Led by Atira Women’s Resource Society’s legal advocate Amber Prince, this tool-kit was created by Aboriginal women, for Aboriginal women.

Thursday April 10th, 2014
 Media Contact:
Caithlin Scarpelli
T: 604-331-1407 x. 104 C: 604-813-0851
RE: “Your Rights on Reserve” a Legal Tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in British Columbia
Atira Women’s Resource Society is thrilled to announce the release of a legal tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in British Columbia.
Led by Atira Women’s Resource Society’s legal advocate Amber Prince, this tool-kit was created by Aboriginal women, for Aboriginal women.
Says Ms. Prince, “As Aboriginal women with varying experience with the law we have seen in our work and in our lives how gaps in legal information creates hardships for Aboriginal women in BC.”
The tool-kit aims to address some of the identified gaps in legal information for Aboriginal women.
“We hope this tool-kit will be of assistance to women, their families and their communities,” says Prince, “as well as for service providers helping Aboriginal women understand some of their legal rights in BC and especially as they apply on reserve.”
The tool-kit includes chapters on taxation, employment issues on Reserve, social assistance / welfare, education, Indian Status, Band membership, Reserve land and housing issues, wills and estates Issues, family law, relationship violence, Ministry of Children and Families Development and governance issues.
An Advisory Committee member for the Tool-kit, Donna Moon, notes, "I am excited for the launch and to have been a contributor to this important, much needed tool-kit!"
We are grateful to the Law Foundation of British Columbia for its support, as well as the Legal Services Society of British Columbia for donating staff expertise to the project. We would also like to thank our volunteers who contributed to the project, law student Robyn Gifford, and lawyer Mary Childs.
For more information on the tool-kit please contact our media contact above.