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Intervening/Engaging Batterers for Effective Safety Planning

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Presentation on theme: "Intervening/Engaging Batterers for Effective Safety Planning"— Presentation transcript:

1 Effective and Realistic Strategies in Working with Families with Domestic Violence
Intervening/Engaging Batterers for Effective Safety Planning Gina Vice-Hlavacek, Psy.D. Domestic Violence Consultant/Trainer NB DCF

2 Goals of Presentation As a result of this training, attorneys, judges, court support staff, and workers will be able to: Identify the batterer’s pattern of coercive control in the family. Identify effective and realistic interventions (including identifying specific steps) to address batterers’ pattern of coercive control and support the non-offending parent’s safety planning.

3 How many individuals have you represented or worked with that have been affected by DV?
Can you describe the patterns that you noticed in the family? Describe your interactions with the batterer? What is typically asked of the batterer in terms of interventions/specific steps? How is the batterer’s control present in juvenile court proceedings?

4 Why is it important to assess Domestic Violence?
50% of men who frequently batter their partners also frequently abuse their children. (Straus & Gelles, 1996)‏ Although many parents believe they can hide the domestic violence from their children, children living in these homes report differently. Between 80% and 90% of these children are aware of the violence. (Carlson, 1984) Children of abused mothers are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide, 50% more likely to use drugs and/or alcohol, and are at higher risk for running away. (Senate Hearing, 1990; Walker, 1984)‏ Children raised in violent homes are 74% more likely to commit assault. (Senate Hearing 1990; Sedgwick, 1992)‏

5 What is Domestic Violence?
How was it? Did you find difficult to identify a controlling behavior? What stood out the most?

6 Defining the Domestic Violence
A pattern of coercive control perpetrated by one person against another in an intimate relationship.

7 Pattern of Coercive Control involves:
Obvious Physical assault Threats to bodily harm Kidnapping Stalking Sexual assault How do these behaviors impact how you work with the survivor? Batterer? How might this inform your treatment plan?

8 Pattern of Coercive Control involves:
Subtle: Name calling Threatening to use the court and DCF to take away children Threats to leave the relationship and stop finances Outing someone to their relatives Telling lies Throwing out birth control pills Controlling finances Infidelity Keeping weapons in the house Hiding passports Interfering with one’s ability to call upon supports, via telephone and car (smashing the cell phone, taking keys away, etc) Posturing when angry Disapproving of non-offending parent’s supports, thus making it less likely she/he will utilize them. What are your thoughts regarding the more subtle behaviors? How do they interfere with the safety planning?

9 Safety Planning Strategies and How the Batterer can Interfere
Temporary Restraining Orders and Protective Orders Cell Phones Identify safe hiding places (DV or homeless shelter) Call 911 Remove child from abusive environment; Bring child to alternate, safe, location (i.e.: friend, relative, different room within home) Notify school officials, teachers, etc. of batterer’s potential violence; safety plan; emergency contact, heighten awareness to and possible change in child’s behavior Sleep in same room with children Talk to children about how to respond to violence, i.e.: stay away from abusive/violent environment; respond to code word; go to identified neighbor’s house, hiding place etc. Move out of home with/without children

10 Safety Planning Strategies and How the Batterer can Interfere
Sleep in car/street Identify person to assist with visitation to reduce potential for violence during transfer of children Keep children out of school/change schools Make sure they attend school Normalize as much as possible by providing a safe structure Meeting basic needs (feeding, bathing, spending quality time) Keeping up to date medically Maintaining a routine to avoid exposure to possible violence Engaging children with outside activities and relationships (formal and informal) Attending school functions such as parent-teacher conferences, fairs, etc. How might each of these points impact the children? How are these related to the batter’s behaviors? For example, keeping children out of school impacts the child’s academic performance, and frequently changing schools to avoid the batterer also impacts a child’s peer relationships, school performance, and the child’s overall attitude towards school.

11 Scenario Fiza and Muhammad are a traditional Pakistani couple who were married through an arrangement and have been together for 8 years. They have 2 children, male age 4 and female age 6. An incident occurred that began with Muhammad looking through Fiza’s cell phone to check her call log. An argument began and Muhammad followed Fiza throughout the house. He hit her in the head as the children were present. She ran into the bathroom and he ran after her. He had a “cake” knife in his hand and stabbed her on the right side of her head and palms as she was trying to protect her body. She eventually fell into the bathtub. Fiza ran out of the home with her children. Muhammad followed her and grabbed their son and stated, “if you call the police, I will kill your son.” She left the home with her daughter and proceeded to take the child to school. She realized she had blood coming from her head and turned around to go to her parents home. When she arrived, she noticed what seemed to be Muhammad’s car in the driveway. She proceeded to drive around the block, park, and waited for 45 minutes. When she arrived to her parent’s home, her brother encouraged her to go to the hospital and police station to make a report. What is the pattern of coercive control that you notice in this situation? What are some of the safety planning attempts that Fiza made in the current situation? Now that she has retracted her story and wants the protective order lifted, how does this make sense with her safety planning? What approach do you think DCF and the juvenile courts might take once they became involved? What would you need? Service? Community supports?

12 How do you engage and intervene with the Batterer?
Common Problems: Allowing the batterer’s behavior to be invisible. Focusing on treatment for the survivor. Focusing on the survivor leaving the batterer. They may be a boyfriend, not the biological father. Batterers do not make themselves available for interviewing, treatment, and/or other community agencies. Our own bias Mother’s are often seen as the primary caretakers, thus the responsibility for providing safety rests with her. How do you make the batterer visible? Hold them accountable by incorporating them in the treatment plan? How does the batterer’s invisibility impact the way you work with the survivor?

13 How to intervene with the Batterer: Aspects to consider
Cultural differences Status Financial status Social Supports Human vulnerabilities (e.g., love for their children) Personality resiliency Cultural aspects would include from another country, diversity in religious roles, ect. Status in society as well as status in the family. Financial status and the power in obtaining a good lawyer. What are the social supports of the batterer and how might they contribute to his overall control of his spouse/partner? How could you utilize the batterer’s strengths, that he loves his children? Batterer may be a trauma survivor. How do you work with this and also hold this person accountable for his/her actions?

14 How to intervene with the Batterer: Strategies
What behaviors are maladaptive to the family functioning? Identifying these to the batterer can assist in identifying what he/she needs to change in order for the family to be safe and remain together. Appropriate programs can also be identified to assist in making these changes. Goals of treatment programs, such as the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DOVE, EXPLORE, and NOVA), can be used to develop specific steps for the batterer. Using MI can be a helpful intervention in working with the batterer.

15 Treatment Options for Batterers
Areas of Concern: Anger management – not useful for domestic violence. Couples counseling – not useful for domestic violence Under certain conditions couples counseling can be used by a counselor well-trained in power and control issues to focus on the abuser’s responsibility and not interactive issues like communication and intimacy. Cannot be used if the survivor is significantly afraid of their partner. Individual counseling – not useful for domestic violence.

16 Treatment Options Group therapy
Most effective treatment, intensive, 26 weeks. Deals primarily with cultural issues, internal and external consequences, and personal contradictions. Especially useful in accountability and responsibility in the abuser. Community Coordinated Response – necessary for effective treatment and survivor’s safety.

17 How to intervene with the Batterer: Strategies
Set specific/concrete goals/steps/expectations. Will support a relationship between mother and children by the following: Will provide transportation to and from visitation with mother. Will return the family vehicle to mother so that she can continue to take children to and from activities, medical appointments, etc. Will support mother’s parenting by not speaking negatively about mother in front of the children. Will support mother’s parenting by supporting her limit setting (not overriding these limits). Will cease all further physical violence towards any/all members of the household (includes pets). Will cease all further intimidating behavior towards any member of household. This includes verbal threats, destruction of property, throwing objects, punching walls, invasion of privacy. How might you use this in your treatment planning when working with families that involve DV?

18 Specific steps/expectations continued:
Will identify the impact of his/her pattern of coercive control and take responsibility for its impact on the family. Responsibility for DCF involvement and legal involvement and the ongoing intrusion in the family as a result. Will participate in positive parenting of the children. If needed, will participate in a parenting program (if he is not living in the home and continues to have contact with the children). Will maintain contact with school, attend school meetings when necessary, etc. Will discuss this impact both in treatment as well as with others, taking responsibility for these behaviors and acknowledging the destructive impact of them in the home. Will cooperate with DCF and providers. As such, will sign necessary and requested releases of information.

19 How to intervene: Survivor’s Safety Planning
It is important to note: Survivors actively assess risk, and their strategies to reduce risk and harm to their family may appear disorganized and unpredictable. Survivor’s safety planning is always subject to change dependent on the batterer’s behavior and the changing circumstances these behavior’s create.

20 Intervening with the survivor:
Once the situation has been assessed and the batterer has been held responsible, the survivor should be assessed in terms of his/her needs. Based on symptoms, a survivor may be sent to mental health counseling, trauma group, to address PTSD, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. Based on limited supports, lack of safety planning, and the level of risk the batterer may pose, the survivor may benefit from services at a domestic violence shelter. However, the goals of treatment need to be made explicit, otherwise, supporting her existing safety plan and holding the batterer accountable may address the level of risk in the family. Couples counseling is contraindicated until the batterer is able to take responsibility for his/her behaviors and the impact of them on the family.

21 “Engaging and intervening with the batterer supports the non-offending parent’s safety plan and validates their experience.” (Grijalba-Rodriguez & Vice-Hlavacek, 2007)

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