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Safety organized, trauma-informed and solution-focused domestic violence practice in child protection: Engaging families to promote change Christine Minerva.

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Presentation on theme: "Safety organized, trauma-informed and solution-focused domestic violence practice in child protection: Engaging families to promote change Christine Minerva."— Presentation transcript:

1 Safety organized, trauma-informed and solution-focused domestic violence practice in child protection: Engaging families to promote change Christine Minerva Consultant, National Resource Center for Child Protective Services Fernando Mederos Consultant and Trainer, Fatherhood, Domestic Violence and Child Welfare July 16, 2013

2 Learning objectives Understand what constitutes a safety organized, trauma informed, solution focused approach to engaging individual family members in domestic violence (DV) cases in child welfare Know the resources available to support continued learning about these approaches and enhance development of DV practice

3 Webinars in this series
June: Focused on key issues for intake, assessment and intervention; organizational capacity Available at TODAY: Focus on engagement of the children, non-offending parent and DV offender August 20, 2013: Focus on safety planning and case planning

4 Agenda Overview: Safety organized, trauma informed, solution focused approaches Engagement of the non-offending parent (adult victim of domestic violence) Engagement of children Engagement of the DV offender (person using violence and abuse in the relationship)

5 Framework for Engagement
Trauma Informed: “Acknowledges and responds to the varying impact of traumatic stress on children, caregivers, families, and those who have contact with the system.” Safety Organized: Ongoing and continuous engagement that explores risks, protective factors, and strategies to create safety. Solution Focused: Individualized, case-specific. Utilizes Miracle questions, Exception questions, Coping questions, Scaling questions to generate planning and change. References: Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project

6 Domestic Violence Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of coercive and violent behavior used by a person to establish control over an intimate partner. May include: physical violence, sexual violence/coercion, economic abuse, verbal/emotional abuse, psychological abuse/threats, using children, using systems such as CPS/courts.

7 Mothers who have Experienced Domestic Violence

8 Lack of Social Supports
NOP CPS/ other Systems Coping Abuse Active Abuse Oppression Lack of Social Supports Multi-abuse Trauma References: National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health “Real Tools: Responding to Multi-Abuse Trauma” Edmund and Bland, Alaska Network and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

9 Trauma Responses In response to a danger or perceived risk, a person may experience a Fight- Flight- Freeze Response (National Resource Center on PTSD). Survivors may have re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, or hyper-arousal symptoms (National Resource Center on PTSD). How a survivor acts when triggered or in the context of DV might not make sense to an outsider and may seem counterintuitive. References: National Resource Center on PTSD

10 How Non-Offending Parent May Present
Laughing or nonchalant Distraught or flooded with emotion Indecisive or ambivilant Collected and calm Angry Expressing that the abuse is her fault Dissociative, numb, or "flat“ May appear to be "lying about abuse" May appear to be "minimizing abuse" References: National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

11 Goals of Engagement with Non-Offending Parents
Identify risks, safety strategies/protective factors, and supports. Understand how DV is impacting the child and identify what’s helping promote the child’s resiliency. Partner with NOP around CPS involvement in order to minimize risks.

12 Building Rapport with the Non-Offending Parent
Arrange a safe interview - communicate the message that CPS is concerned about the safety of both the NOP and the children Dispel myths about CPS Explain limits of confidentiality Acknowledge that CPS involvement may increase risks Communicate with empathy and respect

13 Identifying Risks Avoid asking “Is there domestic violence?” and instead ask open-ended questions about the relationship and the abuse. “Tell me about your relationship. What happens when you disagree?” Ask about and listen for behaviors that indicate a pattern of power and control. In order to understand risk, we need to understand more than a snap shot of a DV incident. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Helpful Things to Say” “Identifying Domestic Violence”

14 Identifying Risks & Protective Factors
Ask specific questions related to frequency, duration, and severity of abuse. Ask about and listen for indicators of dangerousness: weapons, strangulation, threats of suicide/homicide. Explore what’s helped her to stay safe in the past, what resources she may have used, and any potential barriers she may face. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Identifying Domestic Violence”

15 Assessing Children’s Exposure
Partner with NOP to understand how the children have been impacted by witnessing DV. Normalize that it can be difficult to talk with children about abuse. “What do you think the children understand about the abuse? Did your children ever see or hear the fighting? How do you think this has affected them?” Ask about the children’s strengths. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Helpful Things to Say” “Identifying Domestic Violence”

16 Exploring Protective Strategies
“Moms who are being abused are often doing many things to keep their kids safe and support them. Can you tell me ways you try to protect your children? How have these strategies worked?” Ask about and listen for protective strategies such as encouraging the children to go to a neighbor’s house, stay out of the argument, call 911, or staving off arguments until the children are asleep. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Helpful Things to Say” “Identifying Domestic Violence”

17 Safety Organized & Solution Focused CPS Partnership
Explore NOP’s perspective on how CPS should intervene with her partner (what will escalate risk and what will reduce risk). Explore NOP’s perspective on how to maintain ongoing contact and how she can safely discuss concerns with you in the future. Throughout the case, recognize that CPS involvement may create additional risks for both the NOP and the child. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Helpful Things to Say” “Identifying Domestic Violence”

18 Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence

19 Children/Youth and DV In the past year, 6.6% of US children were exposed to physical IPV, which is more than 5 million children. In the past year, 5.7% were exposed to psychological/emotional IPV, or about 4.3 million children. Futures Without Violence References: Futures Without Violence

20 Effects of DV on Children/Youth
Physical Emotional Behavioral Effects on values Effects on parenting References: Futures Without Violence, “Connect Curriculum”

21 Children/youth are impacted differently
Age, Gender Frequency, Severity, & Duration of Abuse Presence of Protective Factors Additional Traumas or Lack of Opportunities to Build Self Esteem Child’s Coping Strategies Overall Impact of Exposure References: Futures Without Violence, “Connect Curriculum” Presence or Absence of Supports Access to age-appropriate information about abuse

22 Trauma Informed Perspective on Interviews
Children/youth have various reasons for not disclosing abuse or wanting to talk about DV. Perspectives are impacted by the dynamic of DV. Children may present with disjointed and non- linear reporting, or magical thinking. Children and youth, like adults, may have experienced layers of trauma and abuse (multi-abuse trauma). References: “16 Trauma-Informed, Evidence Based Recommendations for Advocates Working with Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence.” Futures Without Violence

23 Tips for Engaging Children/Youth
Build rapport by asking about their likes/dislikes school, pets, friends, etc. Let them know it is okay to talk about what’s happening in their family and in their own relationships. Never meet with the child/youth to discuss DV in front of the DV offender. Identify risks, safety strategies, resiliency, and supports. Safety plan & check-in after the interview. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Identifying Domestic Violence”

24 Trauma Informed and Safety Organized Interviews
Normalize that all families argue. “What happens in your family when grown-ups argue? How do the grown-ups try to keep you safe?” ALWAYS TELL CHILDREN/YOUTH THAT THE ABUSE IS NOT THEIR FAULT. Explore child’s or youth’s perspective on how his/her parents would react if they knew we were talking about the abuse in the home. References: Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Identifying Domestic Violence”

25 Safety Organized Assessment
“What do you do when grown-ups are arguing? How do you stay safe? How do you know to do that?” Listen for protective strategies If the child/youth discloses that they try to stop the argument, discuss safety and tell kids that they best way they can help is by staying safe. If child/youth discloses an appropriate safety plan, such as calling 911, reinforce.

26 Trauma Informed Tips for Engaging Children/Youth
Assess how the child is being impacted by the abuse. “How do you feel when grown-ups are arguing? Do you have any worries about what might happen when grown-ups argue?” Identify coping strategies. “What kinds of things make you feel better when you feel (angry, sad, scared…)?” Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence” National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect “Identifying Domestic Violence”

27 Solution Focused Engagement with Children/Youth
Listen for existing supports. “Have you ever talked with anyone about what’s happening in your family? Who takes care of you? How can we help your family?” Look for ways to build resiliency. “What are the things that you are most proud of? What kinds of things do you think you are really good at?” References: “16 Trauma-Informed, Evidence Based Recommendations for Advocates Working with Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence.” Futures Without Violence

28 Fathers with a History of Domestic Violence

29 Part I: Who are these men--CPS
Low income,  men of color Challenging backgrounds—poverty, exposure to community violence, trauma in family of origin Poor manhood modeling Positive fatherhood visions Desire to do better Have pathways for change

30 Trauma Bond: Exposure To Community & Family Violence
Exposure to & involvement w/violence— defensive/aggressive posture—reactivity Substance abuse, triggers, depression, rigid manhood Shut down, withdrawal, “wearing the mask”/protecting inner world Highly sensitive to issues of respect and coercion

31 Part II: Who are these men--DV
Men with history of DV Vast range of dangerousness, strengths & capacity to change 4070% moderate; can change 3040% chronic re-assaulters— jealous, obsessed, sub abuse generally violent 15% potentially lethal—high control, high violence or both

32 Implications of levels of DV & strengths
Differential approaches, careful management of safety Consider different levels of access to children, levels of supervision Always look for strengths as key to positive engagement Positive relationships with children can be source of strength

33 Pathways to engagement
Positive fatherhood vision Education on impact of DV on children—crucial parallel engagement—impact of DV on children=impact of DV on self as child Concern for children—opening: “You cannot hurt or disrespect their mother w/out also hurting your kids. You cannot separate this.” Modeling issue: sons & daughters, powerful impact, differential

34 Safety: Things to do… Speak to the father alone. If the mother is present, it can escalate things or lead to retaliation. Check your feelings. Don’t look for confession or confront him harshly or aggressively. Build a relationship with him. If he can feel a sense of respect and interest, it will pay off. At the beginning, focus on getting him to reflect on the impact of his behavior on the children.

35 Safety Focus on strengths that may help him in the change process. Figure out your approach. Are you moving toward having him engage in services that address DV and some form of safe contact/visitation with his children? Or do you think that his risk level and/or the children’s level of trauma are too high to move toward contact/visitation?

36 What to Say… What is your relationship to your children? How do want them to look back at you years from now? I am concerned about what has happened. Many men don’t realize it, but knowing that your dad has hurt your mom can scar children. This is not about your intentions, but about your impact. You can change that. What was your experience with your father or father figure as a child? What do you carry now? Talk about the impact of witnessing DV on children in detail. Differentiate by age groups and by gender. You can say, “When a man hurts his partner, he hurts the children. It doesn’t matter what triggered you. You may have felt justified at the moment.

37 What to say… (After he’s been violent.) What you do now will be very important to them… If you don’t change, they will feel you turned your back on them. It’s not just about your partner. Talk about getting help: attending batterer intervention program or other options… You are very important to your children. Research indicates boys will get their sense of manhood and fatherhood from you and that girls will develop a sense of what to expect from men. Both of them will get a sense of healthy relationships and of how to resolve conflict from your example. You matter a great deal. If you can change your behavior, it will make a big difference to them.

38 National Resource Center on PTSD
Resources National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health – practical tips National Resource Center on PTSD “Real Tools: Responding to Multi-Abuse Trauma” Edmund and Bland, Alaska Network and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

39 Resources Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project
Futures Without Violence National Resource Center for Domestic Violence

40 Resources National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—Family Violence Dept Culturally specific DV institutes AND State examples of DV practices all available at

41 Webinar Recording, PowerPoint Slides and Handouts
The recording of the webinar, along with the PowerPoint slides used today and all of the featured handouts will be available by the end of the week at the NRCCPS website: The archived recording of the June webinar and PowerPoint handouts are currently available at the same site.


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