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Challenges, competencies, and quality of life of professionals that provide support to victims of trauma and violence in Portugal

Mariana Gonçalves, PhD, Centro de Investigação em Psicologia, Escola de Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal; Marina Hintze, Mestrado, Centro de Investigação em Psicologia, Escola de Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal; Joana Matos, Mestrado, Centro de Investigação em Psicologia, Escola de Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal;
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2021 (LCF/PR/SR21/52560014)

This study aimed to understand the challenges, professional competencies, and quality of life of professionals working in institutions that support victims of trauma and violence in Portugal. The sample was composed of 503 professionals, mostly women (91%), from different work areas (psychosocial, health, justice) that participated in an online questionnaire. Respondents supported a variety of types of victims, with the largest proportion of participants reporting that they supported victims of domestic violence against adults. Participants identified multiple professional difficulties and institutional obstacles in their work (such as those related to victims who didn’t speak Portuguese). Also, they reported not receiving the necessary resources to develop their competencies and provide tailored support to the full range of victims they attended.
Key points
  • 1
       Most participants reported providing support to victims of domestic violence. Most participants reported providing support to victims who were migrants and/or belonged to an ethnic minority.
  • 2
       Participants reported that it was more challenging to provide support to victims that belonged to a minority group in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and/or nationality.
  • 3
       Participants identified multiple cultural and linguistic difficulties and institutional obstacles to providing tailored support to victims.
  • 4
       Portuguese institutions do not have resources to provide services adjusted to the needs of minority cultural groups and do not offer training that promotes the professionals’ competencies related to cultural factors.
  • 5
       Trauma-informed care is still an emergent reality in Portuguese institutions that support victims.
  • 6
       Participants showed low-moderate levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout, and moderate-high levels of compassion satisfaction.

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