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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

The Cultural and Psychological Implications of Sexual Assault and Rape for Refugee Women: Working with Disclosure, Shame and Guilt

Held on 22 May 2024


This essential Clinical Master Class will give you practical tips for working with disclosure of sexual assault and rape, a commonly used weapon of war. It will highlight the associated stigma, shame and guilt which can make it difficult for women to disclose their horrific experiences. This may be due to traumatic amnesia, dissociation, not having the language to speak, being too traumatised to speak, cultural taboos or a combination of these factors.

From Associate Professor Lata Satyen, a registered psychologist, you will learn about the cultural and psychological implications of sexual assault and rape for women and gain practical tips on how to support women when there is such a disclosure. She will describe the impacts of shame, stigma, and guilt and outline how a whole-of-community approach can be adopted to support affected women.

Pearl Fernandes, a STARTTS Psychologist, and Veena O’Sullivan, a STARTTS Physiotherapist, will present a real-life complex case study of a refugee woman who slowly and with difficulty disclosed a gang rape, whom they were able to assist on a healing journey utilising an integrated body-mind approach.

You will hear a conversation with Dr Lata Satyen, Pearl Fernandes and Veena O’Sullivan via a Q&A panel discussion facilitated by STARTTS’ Deputy CEO, Lachlan Murdoch. You will come away with many tools to assist your female clients who have disclosed rape and sexual assault work with their shame and guilt and ultimately heal.


Dr Lata Satyen

Dr. Lata Satyen is an Associate Professor in Psychology at Deakin University and a Registered Psychologist. She is the Co-Convenor of the Deakin Network Against Gendered Violence and the Victorian State Lead for the Australian Domestic, Family, and Sexual Violence Recovery Alliance. Her research focuses on intersectionality in family and domestic violence. As a pro-bono psychologist, Lata assists victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence and collaborates with services involved in victim and child protection. She represents women and children in the Family and Magistrates’ Courts and writes psycho-legal reports for these courts. She is also a strong advocate and works with government and non-government organisations for policy and practice improvements and adopting a culturally relevant framework to understanding and intervening in incidents of family and domestic violence in multicultural communities.

Pearl Fernandes and Veena O’Sullivan

Pearl Fernandes is a psychologist who has worked at STARTTS since 1998. She is currently the Direct Services Intake Team Leader. Over the years she has integrated multiple therapeutic approaches and modalities with individuals and groups. The ‘Survivors of Torture Rape and their Intrusions’ (STRI) therapeutic group project for women, is one example of the many successful and effective programs developed by Pearl. Veena O’Sullivan is a physiotherapist and has worked at STARTTS since 1999. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Veena draws upon a variety of fields (neuroscience, biomechanics, medicine, psychology etc) to provide specialised care for clients. Her personal interests in yoga, meditation and dance also inform her practice contributing to a compassionate, intuitive and creative approach to healing.

Lachlan Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch is STARTTS’ Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Lachlan has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for twenty five years in a variety of capacities. Since joining STARTTS Lachlan has held several management positions delivering programmes to refugee survivors of torture and trauma including within early intervention and rural and regional services. Overseas, Lachlan worked with organisations assisting repatriated refugees and displaced people in Central America in the 1990s.  He is presently a Management Committee member of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS Australia) and was previously a long standing Board  member of the Asylum Seekers Centre of NSW.


CPD points – 1.5 CPD hours
This webinar adheres to the continuing professional development standards of most professional bodies. Please check the CPD policy of your professional body.

Contact us
(02) 9646 6700  Ask for the Training Administration Officer

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