Going up river…

Today I have spent the day making a short film about my research. The filming was funded by the OU Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area, who also fund my research. It was a short film looking at my research as well as my academic and personal pathway.

During the filming they kept asking me about my journey to get to this point in my research career. How and why I went from the front-line work to be here studying this topic. It reminded me of a small story that an old colleague once told me at work, so I thought I would share it with you. I can’t remember where she got it from, although as we were working in the Coordinated Community Response model to domestic violence I imagine it may have had something to do with the late Dr. Ellen Pence, the founder of this way of working from Duluth, Minnesota. She was a real maverick and I’m told she had a really straight up way of talking to people and getting them to work with her model. I recommend looking up her book Co-ordinating Community Response to Domestic Violence: Lessons from Duluth and Beyond with Melanie Shepard (1999). The CCR model is unique as it engages a whole community in tackling the issue of DVA.

Anyway, here it is;

There was a village based around a river bed, who started noticing bodies coming down the river. Real human bodies! Alarmed, the villagers started dragging them out to the land and seeing what could be done. They developed rituals around the bodies, preparing them and laying them to rest. However it wasn’t until someone came one day and wondered why the bodies were coming down the river, that the villagers made a group and decided to venture a little up stream. Upstream they found the source of the river, where the bodies were coming down from a small waterfall. A small group camped out there, determined to find out what was happening…

It is a strange little metaphor and its imagery has always stayed with me. I suspect that is something to do with the odd imagery of bodies bobbing about in the water. She likened the villagers dealing with the bodies as the front-line response to DVA, where people take care but it is already too late in a way, the damage has happened. The group that went upstream were the people working in strategic roles, particularly using the CCR model, trying to figure out what was happening and how if anything can be done to prevent the bodies appearing. I wonder where research would fit into the story, I suppose it could be present around all the parts of the river, figuring out what is going on from a distance and trying again to work out the dynamics behind the bodies, the villagers responses, as well as the way the river bend and shapes.

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