"Women of Courage" Holistic, innovative and comprehensive Court Preparation for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Stream: Questions of Justice in Cases of Gender-based Violence
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 3.15 pm – 5.00 pm


Australian research estimates that one in five women experience sexual violence (Personal Safety Survey, 2012). Despite legislative reforms, the legal process has been found to continue to replicate the same inequalities and abuses of power survivors experience during sexual assault, resulting in the re-traumatisation of survivors by the legal system. This PhD intervention research project developed, conducted and evaluated an eight-week Group Court Support and Preparation Program “Women of Courage.” This innovative, evidence-based pilot program was conducted at a regional Sexual Assault Service and aimed to offer a setting in which participants felt safe and had the opportunity to learn relevant skills required for navigating the legal process. The program offered a holistic approach to supporting women during the legal journey, through the provision of easy to understand, practical information and relevant skills with regards to the court process itself, as well as providing resilience-enhancing skills including mindfulness training, social support, distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills. Early results indicate that the “Women of Courage” Program empowered participants and allowed them to develop important skills, inner resources and strengths, as well as having reduced the social isolation so frequently experienced by survivors of sexual assault.


Martina Zangger (Presenter), Newcastle University
Martina Zangger is Lecturer in Health Behaviour Sciences at Newcastle University.
She has an Honors Degree in Social Work (Sydney University), a Masters Degree in Couple and Family Therapy (UNSW), and is completing a PhD in the School of Medicine and Public Health, Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Newcastle University.

She has over 20 years clinical experience working in rural and regional Sexual Assault Services. Martina is committed to the development and delivery of compassionate, holistic, evidence-based services to survivors of sexual assault and gendered violence. She continues to provide clinical supervision to Sexual Assault Service Counsellors.

Deborah Loxton (Presenter), Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing
A/Professor Deb Loxton is Deputy Director and Research Academic of the Australian Longitudinal Study on
Women's Health (ALSWH). She manages the University of Newcastle team of researchers. ALSWH is a
longitudinal study examining the health and well-being ofAustralian women since 1996. Her PhD investigated the
health and well-being of mid-aged women who had experienced intimate partner violence.