August 22, 2011

Journal to publish professor’s work on domestic abuse prevention

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel, assistant professor of social work at St. Catherine University. Photo by Mike Ekern/University of St. Thomas.

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel’s research revolves around violence in marriage, particularly related to immigrant Mexican women.

Several years ago Marrs Fuchsel, assistant professor of social work in the School of Professional Studies at St. Catherine University, developed a three-part domestic violence prevention model that encourages these women — and other female victims of abuse — to take stock of themselves and what they want out of an intimate partnership before entering into it.

In summer 2010, she finished a “good” first draft of one aspect of her domestic abuse prevention model at St. Kate’s Scholar's Retreat. The University developed the five-day annual retreat in 2000 to encourage faculty and staff to work intensively on scholarly writing.

Marrs Fuchsel submitted the draft to the Journal of Social Work and Christianity in September 2010. It went through two rounds of revisions, and on July 22, 2011, "The Catholic Church as a Support for Immigrant Mexican Women Living with Domestic Violence” was finally accepted for publication.

“I am thrilled,” she says, although a publication date has yet to be set. “I’ve wanted to write about this aspect of my model, and I just needed the space and no distractions to do it. The Scholar's Retreat was a great place for this. It helped me become fully immersed in my writing, but more importantly, it gave me the encouragement to keep writing daily. I am very grateful that St. Kate's offers such a program for faculty.”

Marrs Fuchsel will present her article findings at a conference in Winona, October 14–15, for pastoral staff and clergy from greater Minnesota.

Research partnerships in Minnesota

Recently, Marrs Fuchsel partnered with a local parish in Worthington, Minn.— where 28 percent of the 13,000 residents identify as Hispanic— to conduct domestic violence-prevention training. Up next for the St. Kate's professor is a community-based participatory research collaboration with Migrant Health Services Inc. She will begin a 12-week empowerment group in Spanish for Hispanic women, based on her Domestic Violence Prevention Model, at its clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“My culturally sensitive curriculum is still in the early stages of development, but coming along,” Marrs Fuchsel says. “The participants in the group will help me evaluate it and fine-tune it even more. I am also looking at other curriculums — for example, curriculums that address relationship skill building and prevention of domestic violence in dating — that have been through extensive research clinical trials.”

Marrs Fuchsel adds that she is “truly grateful” for the opportunity to serve the migrant Mexican population because the needs are great.

“I wish we had more bilingual social workers in Greater Minnesota,” she says. “We need more to provide services to the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. The Hispanic population in Minnesota alone has grown 74 percent compared to 10 years ago.”

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by Pauline Oo