Tanja SamardzicTanja Samardzic has won a Women’s Health Scholars Award for her work exploring the “self-silencing” of women in relationships with violent men.

Psych student wins provincial support to explore “self-silencing”

Trying to maintain romantic relations, some women learn to ignore their own needs — even suppressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, says Tanja Samardzic.

A Master’s candidate in the UWindsor applied social psychology program, she is exploring the “self-silencing” of women in relationships with violent men. She describes it as a collection of behaviours where women put aside what they want and need, putting their partners first.

“Some women internalize social pressure and gender norms as to what a good woman should be,” Samardzic says. “There is a culture of gender-norm socialization that places women secondary to men.”

Her research project is one of 10 across Ontario chosen to receive the 2018-19 Women’s Health Scholars Awards, earning funding from the provincial government to continue their important research to improve the health and well-being of women. Samardzic will receive $26,000.

“It’s exciting that I get funding that I hope will help women one day,” she says. “Especially since my work is very social in nature and so many of the other projects are more biological. It is exciting that they acknowledge my work as important to women.”

David Lindsay, president of the Council of Ontario Universities, which administers the awards, calls inspiring the research they will fund.

“This outstanding work reflects Ontario universities’ commitment to partnering to conduct innovative research on new treatments and better services, train the highly-skilled professionals that deliver high-quality care, and improve the health and well-being of the people of Ontario,” he says.

For her part, Samardzic hopes her research will serve as a first step improving interventions and support offered to survivors of intimate partner abuse.

“I hope to give these women a voice,” she says.