Sylvia Saade, PhD, LCSW, director of Outreach and Support Intervention Services (OASIS) at the Center, traveled in March to her home country of Lebanon to provide training for specialized police units to help them deal effectively with domestic violence.
“Such formal training is unprecedented in Lebanon and the Arab World. Except for Tunisia, there is still no law criminalizing domestic violence,’ she says. Currently, the Parliament of Lebanon has a proposal to make domestic violence illegal.
The Lebanon police are first responders to any act of violence according to Saade. She says there is a need to change attitudes about domestic violence and to move from blaming the injured party or sending the victim back home to a threatening situation.
“Now there are more community resources that the police can actually transport the victim to a safe house.”
Two thousand police officers participated in the month-long program. They were taught how to recognize various forms of abuse and its effect on family and society, and learned the characteristics of the abuser and the victim. They also learned appropriate interviewing skills to use to gather physical evidence and to write effective reports.
Saade presented this training at the invitation of the Lebanon Ministry of Defense, the Internal Security Forces, the Lebanon American Embassy, and a non-profit organization.
She says she is grateful to the UNC Department of Psychiatry for allowing her to participate in the program.