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Archive for the ‘Women’s Issues’ Category

A differnt kind of Christmas

Although I have been working at the women’s shelter the last two years, I have to say this year was especially affected by my work. For one thing I am now working in the daytime so a lot of responsibility had to be shared by my husband and my sons. Another thing is that my job is following up families with children who have lived at the center, and just before Christmas that isn’t the easiest job in the world.

However there are many reasons which I do love my job, and am grateful for the life I have here and now. My day started with the promise of a White Christmas. Although I left for work at 9 am this morning the sun was not yet up, and the soft colors of dusk filled the air and filled my heart with Christmas spirit. I ringed Renny and told him that he just had to go out and take some photos today, the results of which you may see here!

I have also spent the past few days making sure Christmas will be good for as many people as possible. I have been active in organizing the Christmas celebration at the center, and packed many presents for children of all ages. For the families I follow up I have been taking some of the children out to find gifts for their mom’s, and making sure everyone has something to open on Christmas day.

Dawn, December 24

Dawn, December 24

We also had to make sure that a nice dinner was served for everyone at the shelter and all our guests who have lived there earlier. Since many of the women are immigrants and don’t eat traditional Norwegian Christmas food we had to find something more to their liking. Therefor I was up until 1 am last night making 20 lbs of chicken curry, and cooked up an entire bag of saffron rice to go along with it.

Saffron rice with raisins, cashews and Indian spices

Saffron rice with raisins, cashews and Indian spices

Don’t worry there are other angels at the shelter and three other dishes were made by employees, and many more by the ladies of different cultures living with us. Even though some of them were Muslims, they threw themselves into the spirit and join in the festivities…as long as we don’t feed them pork!

Chicken Curry, without the extra sauce

Chicken Curry, without the extra sauce

All the children were so excited about Santa coming, and I enjoyed picking out gifts even to my adorable little 5 month old pal, who got some new rattles and a those great keys to chew on while he is working on his first set of teeth. The mothers received gifts from the largest cosmetic seller in Norway, plus The Body Shop, and Mary Kay (so everyone will be looking smart for Christmas Day!) Working here reminds me how greedy many of us can be, and how small things can bring so much happiness when you can’t afford everything you want. At least all my girls have everything they truly need, and for that I am grateful.

On the home front Renny made the traditional pork rib on “little Christmas Eve”, and made our yearly Lutefisk dinner this evening. Justin and Kyle were put to work vacuum cleaning, and dusting the furniture, decking the table and washing the bath. My family had done a fabulous initiative so that I could be out in the world helping others, and in that way they are a part of my work too.

This years Christmas Tree, beautiful as always!

This years Christmas Tree, beautiful as always!

And now I have over a week off to recover. I will go back to work the Monday after New Years, and well deserved since I have worked overtime everyday the last two weeks! I wish you all a Merry Christmas wherever you are. Remember how lucky you are to have a home, remember how lucky you are to have a family, you can lose everything in the blink of an eye. Never take it for granted – remember that you have what you need! And if you don’t, reach out for help and somebody like me will be there, have faith!

Window shopping on a rainy day in Bekkestua

 This weekend looks just like the last one, grey and rainy and generally not that attractive outside. While it isn’t below freezing (at the moment) it is also cold. Days like these make me really wish we had a fire place. I do have a fireplace DVD to play on my flat screen TV in HD (which even plays Christmas carols if I like), however that doesn’t seem to warm the house that much and it does make Renny roll his eyes at me.

 So since I didn’t have a fireplace I decided that I really needed to get out today. And when the weather isn’t cooperative what is a girl to do? Go Shopping of course!

Bekkestua

Bekkestua

Occasionally I consider shopping a recreational activity in which one visits a variety of stores in search of a suitable product to purchase. “Window shopping” is an activity that shoppers engage in by browsing shops with no intent to purchase, possibly just to pass the time between other activities, or to plan a later purchase. Today’s trip was a combination of both. First I went to Bekkestua and did a whole lot of window shopping (I especially like doing that at the jewlery store hahaha cheaper that way) and ended that trip with the amazing purchase of nail polish. Well it was at least Chanel nail polish, and it better not chip all week long for the price I paid for it! 

Chanel Nail Polish

Chanel Nail Polish

Then I took the bus to pick up a package at another center. Yes, I did say I took the bus. I do have a car and a drivers license but the bus system is so good here, and I do have a bus card so I pretty much have the schedule memorized. there I did some more window shopping, this time in the lamp boutique. I am very interested in buying a chandelier to have at the peak of our peaked ceiling in the living room. (The difficulty here is that Renny is not equally interested in having a chandelier hanging from the peak of our peaked ceiling.) I don’t quite understand why, I mean this is my dream chandelier which I had serious intentions of shopping with some money I inherited. Why would any man object to that?? 

Diane's dream chandelier

Diane's dream chandelier

Okay, I’m done picking on my sweetie. He’s a good guy we just have different tastes. I have promised not to buy the Swarovski crystal chandelier without his approval first! I did see a simpler one I kind of liked for our living room though. It was iron and had much fewer crystals, it may go better with out wooden ceiling?  

Results of my shopping trip? Food mostly. I did get some nice pesto marinated lamb chops which I will soon be cooking for dinner. And after dinner I will most likely be doing my nails. Hope you all are having a good weekend and finding more interesting things to do then window shopping!

Finally free on Friday

Hello friends! Now it is finally Friday evening and I am free to kick back and relax. I am beginning to get a creeping feeling that I am working too much. I would say most of my co-workers are married to their jobs. I think the majority of employees at the crisis center are single women without kids, and the next class is the one I am in ….middle aged (eek!) women with big kids. Women with small children don’t last very long in this environment, its just too emotionally and mentally demanding to have the energy it takes to care for small children the rest of the day. Still we are a very committed group, and everyone is passionate about the work they do. We are a pretty tight group as well, and spend a lot of time together.

Last weekend I apoligize for not blogging, as many of you know we had a short trip to Greece in the middle of the week (RennyBA and I) and then on Friday I was back to work at a conference of my own (How to talk with traumitised children). Then we did something which I think was rather wonderful for the Crisis Center. We are always competing for funds, and our budget for fixing up the house is pretty small. We who work there have felt bad about the way the center has looked for the last few years as it has been more and more run down on the inside. Last weekend we gave it a face lift!

Painting project

Painting project

Okay so we are not exactly Martha Stewart here but as you can see we did use plastic on the floors. These charming painters are my co-workers. We came in on a voluntary basis Friday night, Saturday and Sunday and gave the house a makeover in a weekend. Glamorous is not exactly the word for this center but trust me this new paint job is a heck of a lot better then it was before. The color brought out some nice old fashioned door frames and window sills which were lost in the faded off white institution paint job. We also feel that using color has given the center a more at home feel. The floor where I work is painted green as you see, and the one above it a crisp light blue color. In addition we put an extra kitchen table into the kitchen, have recently bought new sofas for the living room, and set up new curtains and decorations. We have also recently divided the house so that women who are at the center with children have their own floor, and women who are here single are on another floor. This seems to be working well, as long as room allows. Right now the childrens floor is full, so we are stuck putting them into the adult section. They are moved down into the childrens floor as soon as space is available however.

So I have been spending a bit more time with “my girls” (both the ones I work with and the ones I follow up) then here for the time being. I want you to know that I still appreciate the chance to come in here to Metamorphoses and make contact with my friends and the rest of the world. It adds another dimension to my life and helps to keep me grounded so I don’t get eaten up by this crazy place I spend my days.

Oslo Blog Gathering 2010

Oslo Blog Gathering 2010

I will hopefully have another post this weekend with some lovely pictures of our trip to Greece so come back, okay? And if you want to get to know me and our crazy life here in Oslo please remember to check out the Oslo Blog Gathering 2010. You may find that you would like to join us in November for a Blog Gathering like nothing you have experienced before. I’ll be there….will you join me?

Girls Trip!

Sorry I haven’t been in so much. I had a week off and sooooooooo much that I was going to do with it. Time sure flies when you are having fun!! I got a  call on Monday and my surpervisor for my new position is going on vacation and would like me to work for her 3 days a week the next two weeks to make sure the children’s program at the center keeps to it’s summer plan. On the one hand this is exciting news for me because I wasn’t supposed to start my new position until August and here I will get a chance to get my feet wet a bit earlier. On the down side though it means I have less time off this summer as my current position was just 50%. (My new position will be full time from the middle of August.) The final result is that I did agree to work the extra days primarily because I am looking forward to my new job. This is just a fabulous experience for me, I have never looked forward to a new job in the same way as I do right now.

Torsö beach

Torsö beach

Not wanting to waste the summer that I have, my yearly ‘girl’s trip’ took place last weekend! Each summer I welcome two former colleagues and very good friends to our vacation paradise in Sweden. We call this our summer home and clearly you can see why. We do actually use the place all year round, but summer time is truly the best time of the year in this area. Above you see one of my favorite beaches, far out on the island of Torsö. Off the beaten path and only accessible by country dirt roads, this beach is well worth the adventurous driving as it is a natural sand beach with crystal clear water and few visitors. The water is of course the shores of the Great Lake Väneren (that big blue dot in the middle of the map of southern Sweden).

The trip also included many visits to local cafés to enjoy delicious open faced sandwiches, salads, or cakes accompanied by good Swedish coffee. This one is an adorable refurbished cottage, with a beautiful garden. Here we enjoy the shade since the temperatures were quite warm this year!

Esters Café in Lyrestad, Sweden

Ester's Café in Lyrestad, Sweden

Another important part of our trips is combing the many local flee markets in search of antique treasures and charming decorations. It is incredible what we have dragged with us home from time to time. This year my friends bought 2 complete china sets plus 2 partial sets, diverse decorations and a pink crystal chandelier!!!

Fleamarket, otherwise known as loppis in Mariestad

Fleamarket, otherwise known as 'loppis' in Mariestad

Yes, folks, the green bowl in her hand is a very popular old pattern in Sweden known as Anna, and it helped complete a set which we hauled home with us 🙂

Here’s hoping your summer is as fabulous as ours! Now get out of the air conditioning and live it up people!!!

It’s finished! Breaking away a master thesis on domestic violence

It’s finished! Breaking away! A master thesis on domestic violence

I am happy to announce the finish of my long project which I began working on some time last year, and finally delivered the finished work to Oslo University College this afternoon. That means yes I will also have time to blog again.

domesticviolence

My thesis is made up of two articles based on a qualitative study of domestic violence in association with the women’s shelter where I work. Here for the mildly interested are the summaries for the two articles, if you are very interested you can click here to read the whole darn thing if you like!!

Thanks to all my friends for sticking by me through the whole process and not giving up visiting my blog. And a really BIG thanks to RennyBA for putting up with all my moods, stress, tears, and sharing my joy as well. You are the best!

Discourses of survival: A study of the discourses domestic violence survivors reveal in talking about coping and reestablishment
Summary:

In this article, Discourses of survival: A study of the discourses domestic violence survivors reveal in talking about coping and reestablishment, the focus is placed on prevailing discourses identified in interviews with female domestic violence survivors.

The article is founded in a qualitative study of women who stayed at a local women’s shelter in the fall of 2008. Through discourse analysis of the interviews the article will lift up the users own voices as they share their experiences regarding receiving help from a local women’s shelter and re-establishing themselves in a home free from violence.

The results of the article identify four discourses which are present in all of the women’s interviews. These discourses are called 1) collective solutions discourse, 2) others-are-worse-off discourse, 3) violent experience discourse, and 4) Norwegian normative discourse. Through the use of Faucault’s definitions of discourse, power, and knowledge coupled with Butler’s theory of performative gender the article will show how these discourses both empower and challenge these survivors.

Valuable help: identifying best practice in social work with abused women

Summary
The theoretical perspective of the article is known as best practice. This concept as used in the article is based on Ferguson’s (2007) method which places the focus on where social work has had a positive outcome, or is considered to be a success. Although best practice is most commonly used when the worker identifies a situation where he or she perceives the work as successful, in this study it is the user who is in focus. The participants described situations where they felt successful, supported, or strengthened and identified best practice based on their own experiences.

The results showed that all of the women mentioned the safety aspect of the shelter as being significant. Physical refuge and having an alternative to returning home was rated as important to the users. Next is the category of guidance, sorting and planning which all of the users mentioned as being a necessary part of regaining control over a chaotic situation. Further help in setting appropriate goals was seen as useful. The starting point for the users varied, so setting appropriate goals required patience, flexibility, and individual focus on the part of the social workers. All of the participants also worked on their network in some way. The majority relied on their existing network for help, but some of the participants also found the shelters opportunities for creating new network connections as valuable. Lastly practical help was considered important by the participants. Although the need for help varied based on the individual all of the users reported relying on the shelter for some form of practical help.

Release party! I am published!

Last night I was at a very exciting event! Exciting for me anyway….because the new issue of FETT, the only Norwegian feminist journal, had the current issues release party. FETT comes out quarterly, and is produced by Kvinnefronten (Womens front), with economic support from Free Word and the Norwegian Cultural Advisory, and is a member of the Norwegian Journal union.

Release party

Release party

 

I’m sure this is all very exciting for you, but why am I telling you this now? Because I have an article published in this issue!! The article was on how women traditionally, and also today in many places, are controlled much like property under traditional Christianity. (Islam as well, however the theme of this issue was Christianity and feminism.)

 

I have been looking forward to the release for a long time now, and it was so cool going to that party. It was a weird feeling having the person at the next table reading something that I have written. I also had to chance to meet lots of interesting and intelligent women who were editors, writers, photographers or just regular supporters. So now one of my dreams has come true….to be a ‘writer’ !

I love your blog award

I love your blog award

 

Today I also have to thank Sandee of Comedy Plus for a great award!! The I Love Your Blog award.

 

The rules of the award are:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs that you’ve nominated.

 

I nominate Fleur De Lisa, Inside the Conch, and A little off kilter.

 

Have a great weekend!!

Summer vacation behind locked doors

This year over 120 children will spend their summer vacation in a Crisis centre, or battered women’s shelter here in Norway. Many of these will live behind locked doors for several months before a safe new home is found for them.

It seems to be that this situation is completely absurd, although I see it time and time again. The person who has put these women and children in danger remains in their home, and it is the women and children who are forced to flee and live at a secret address for their own protection.

Children in crisis

Children in crisis

In spite of tough laws in Norway against domestic violence, the accused normally does not get more than a warning and the woman an order of protection which is supposed to prevent the accused from having contact with her. However in many situations of violence the order of protection is not respected by the accused and the family cannot return to their own home.

I was shocked when I returned to work to find our shelter literally overrun…and pretty much stood on end…by a house full of children. Outdoor activities are of course the ideal, however we don’t have the staffing to organize many group activities, the Red Cross which normally runs a volunteer program for us closes the program down in the summer because of lack of volunteers, and many of the mothers are afraid to take their children to the parks or public play areas for fear that their husbands or his family may get to them.

So we spent much of our time and energy at work this weekend trying to keep 17 children of all ages out of trouble, not fighting with their siblings, and entertained. No easy task, I assure you…spent the evening cleaning up paint and organized a popular ‘movie night’ complete with popcorn and juice after the youngest were finally in their beds.

More needs to be done to protect the rights of these families, and help them to stay in their own homes, and rather force the assaulter out of his comfy little bed. However it seems to me that it is a typical womans issue, which doesn’t get enough attention or resources in society in general. The assaulter is normally a man, and the victim normally women and children – and the entire issue is met with excuses. Although the laws protecting the women and children’s rights are in place, the usual excuses – lack of evidence, lack of witnesses, lack of resources in the police force, investigators, and the legal system to give ‘domestic’ cases enough priority.

Meanwhile it is the victims who lived locked up, for their own safety, behind closed doors and security windows and I just keep on popping popcorn and washing up paint…and doing the little I can to make it better.