Immigration and its effect on marital satisfaction and violence against wives in Polish families in Winnipeg

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Beimcik, Jacek
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The intention of this thesis is to offer insights into those features of marital violence in Polish immigrant families in Winnipeg that might be considered important for the planning, delivery and evaluation of social services. This plan is congruent with the need for ethnic awareness and sensitivity in social work practice which, as stated by Green, "implies an awareness of prescribed and proscribed behavior within a specific culture, and it suggests that the ethnically competent worker has the ability to carry out professional activities consistent with that awareness." Probation officers, as well as immigrant batterers and their victims frequently say that limited English skills and cultural differences create a serious challenge to effective treatment within the existing paradigms of intervention. These opinions, however, have little impact on decision-making when it comes to the implementation of effective preventive approaches to dealing with the problem of family violence in immigrant families. Among 125 programs which were offered to male batterers across Canada in 1993, only a few provided individual counseling and interpretation services in the immigrant clients' first languages. Furthermore, only two programs - Services to Immigrants on Probation (SIP) in Winnipeg and MOSAIC in Vancouver - provided group intervention with immigrant male clients. There is a shortage of trained interpreters and workers specializing in counseling or therapy with the abused immigrant women and their abusive partners. In Winnipeg, one such illustration is the lack of such services for Polish immigrant clients with limited English skills. In light of my experience counseling batterers of Polish descent and Polish- Canadian families, and in the opinions of "front line" professional workers (probation officers, counselors, settlement workers), there is a need for a knowledge base to social work intervention with victims of abuse and abusers of Polish background. Programs and approaches that would take into account the specific needs of Polish-Canadian clients have been requested during meetings and workshops on family violence organized for the Polish community, for example, by the Multicultural Partner Abuse Prevention Project (MPAPP). My own observation from Poles in Winnipeg suggests that violence in Polish- Canadian families is a problem which needs to be addressed in a way which is appropriately and specifically designed for this population.