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Judy Hughes Faculty of Social Work Shirley Chau School of Social Work University of Manitoba UBC Okanogan Acknowledgement: Social Sciences and Humanities.

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Presentation on theme: "Judy Hughes Faculty of Social Work Shirley Chau School of Social Work University of Manitoba UBC Okanogan Acknowledgement: Social Sciences and Humanities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Judy Hughes Faculty of Social Work Shirley Chau School of Social Work University of Manitoba UBC Okanogan Acknowledgement: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council SSHRC) Canada Research Council ( SSHRC) Canada

2 Existing Research Case file reviews and qualitative interviews with workers suggest two broad approaches: 1) minimization and 2) intrusive confrontation. Unhelpful Responses: investigation to ensure child safety and well-being, and intervention occurs ONLY when children are at risk (Collings & Davies, 2008; Davis & Krane, 2006; Edleson, 2004; Fowler & Chanmugam, 2007; Hazen, et al., 2004; Kohl & Macy, 2008; Shephard & Raschick, 1999). Helpful responses – seeking of protection orders and aid in obtaining resources, i.e. childcare and housing (Alaggia, et al., 2007; Antle, et al., 2007; Earner, 2009; Humphreys, 1999; Jones & Gross, 2000; Johnson & Sullivan, 2008; Magen, 1999; Scourfield, 2001; Seith, 2001; Shepherds & Raschick, 1999).

3 Study Purpose & Sample Purpose: Examine the interactions that occur between women who have experienced IPV and the Canadian child welfare system In-depth interviews as part of a larger project: Spring 2008: 12 women from Northern British Columbia Spring – Summer 2009: 62 women from Winnipeg 74 women: 33 aboriginal, 26 white, 4 black, and 8 Métis women. The majority reported low incomes, under 20,000 (n = 49) and 5 are under the age of 20, 8 were between the ages of 20-29, 17 were between 30 – 39, 21 were between , and 11 were between

4 Method Ask women to tell their stories of involvement in the Canadian child protection and family law system Based on 26 selected interviews, we examined the structure of specific stories and the organization of plot, setting, and character around a particular or a series of events (Bleakley, 2005; Carniawska, 2004; Earner, 2009; Riessman, 2002; Sandelowski, 1991) Representative Narratives: presentation of detailed narratives that retain the subject positioning and temporal order of events

5 Method – Exploring Stories Identified 26 interviews that contained stories with character, plot, and a temporal order to the described events Internal structure of the stories: Position as narrator – Resist judgmental images applied to women as the partners of abusive men and mothers raising children in difficult circumstances Emplotment of events – when did child protection become involved and the impact of this Examples of two narratives for this presentation

6 “They just assumed I allowed it" Contain a life history of abusive relationships (i.e. partners and family members), which are described as the actions of others against them. Stories are infused with attempts to live better, but this is not recognized: “I had my own place and I was taking care of my kids. I was doing fine but it was just he kept jumping back in, coming into the relationship when he wasn’t wanted and I told him many times to leave.” Dominant theme is that interventions offered are mainly parenting programs that do not help.

7 “They Just Assumed I Allowed it" “They just assumed that I allowed it. I said oh so I allowed somebody to come in, be in my life, kick the shit out of me, throw me around a couple times, and then just leave me. Did I allow that? Well, that’s pretty much how it isn’t it. And I just looked at her, I said your not listening. The ministry kept telling him to go through these courses and do all this and he kept saying, well I don’t need them and I didn’t do anything.” (Woman 01 Northern British Columbia)

8 “They Just Assumed I Allowed it" "I would pray that the social worker could see that while my husband was visiting me I was high. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about the situation. My husband had manipulated me to the point that I believed that you know that he was the best for me and my children, because I couldn’t make it on my own. Please see that I am high and that I need help and he never did. He would come to check out the house and he would carry on a conversation for hours, you know the house would reek of crack cocaine. My eyes were big and I couldn’t sit still. I was obviously high and he never did anything about it, not for the safety of my children, not to get me out and do something for myself, not for anything, he completed ignored the signs. Sometimes I’d forget to hide my pipe before he got there. These are things that he saw. And he never did anything” (Woman 30 Manitoba)

9 Robbed of a Relationship with my Children Loss of relationships with children occurs gradually: 1. Through their partners’ actions toward them 2. Through attempts to seek help for themselves and their children. The child protection system is also given a role in the events that lead to the removal of children: 1. Not providing concrete help when they ask 2. Not respecting the women as mothers after their children are placed in care

10 Robbed of a Relationship with my Children Initial Contact: “I can’t remember if I called them or they called me but I think I called them because, as much as I loved my husband, I found him very controlling and abusive especially towards my son which isn’t his biological kid. I also told them about my husband using the belt on my son. Well they told me to take that belt and put it in the garbage." Multiple Examples: “So my son was returned and right the next morning my husband threatened to slap my son across the face. I was so run down, by being, allowing myself to be controlled by this man with the emotional abuse, that I didn’t even realize what was going on. I couldn’t even have rescued myself and if I couldn’t rescue myself, how could I rescue my children, you know?” (Woman 04 Manitoba)

11 Findings – Subject Positioning Violence is also spoken of as direct by their partners Moments of powerlessness are entwined with others, wherein they describe themselves as in control: in naming the abuse as wrong, as verbally standing up to their partners, and seeking help. Emphasize that they could not have known that these partners are abusive: “Its not like they tell me” “Sure enough I end up with a man who hits me like my dad hit my mom” “I was raised with violence and I think that’s why I got attached to violent relationships”

12 Findings – Order of Events Through listening: it is possible to ‘hear’ how abuse from partners and others leads to both mental health problems and substance misuse. Contact with the system is described as brief or occurring over many years: In some stories, women work to resist the role of workers and files are closed when their partners dies or goes to jail. In other stories, the events that occur clearly describe how a lack of appropriate intervention leads to the removal of children. In most of the stories, responsibility is placed on women as mothers, they are not offered concrete help to leave partners and there is no intervention with the abusive partner.


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