Presentation on theme: "Protecting Children Exposed to Domestic Violence"— Presentation transcript:
1Protecting Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Teresa Drake, J.D.,Director, The Source Program,Visiting Legal Skills Professor,Associate Director, Center on Children and Families,Levin College of Law;Affiliate Professor, Center forWomen’s Studies and GenderResearch, UF College of Liberal Artsand Sciences
2Fla Stat 741.2902 Legislative Intent with respect to judiciary's role (2) It is the intent of the Legislature, with respect to injunctions for protection against domestic violence issued pursuant to s , that the court shall:(e) Consider supervised visitation, withholding visitation, or other arrangements for visitation that will best protect the child and petitioner from harm.
3Fla Stat(6)(a)Upon notice and hearing, when it appears to the court that the petitioner is either the victim of domestic violence as defined by s or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, the court may grant such relief as the court deems proper, including an injunction:(3) On the same basis as provided in chapter 61, providing the petitioner with 100 percent of the time-sharing in a temporary parenting plan that remains in effect until the order expires or an order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction in a pending or subsequent civil action or proceeding affecting the placement of, access to, parental time with, adoption of, or parental rights and responsibilities for the minor child.
5Children and DVIn 43% of households where DV occurs, at least one child under the age of 12 lives in the homeAlthough many parents believe they can hide DV from children, research suggests that 80% - 90% of these children are aware of the violenceSleeping infant study!
6Examples of Child Exposure Hearing threats of physical harmFeeling tension building in home prior to assaultBeing hit/threatened while in mother’s armsHearing/seeing assault on their motherBeing denied care because mother is injured or depressedBeing forced to watch/participate in violence against their motherSeeing aftermath of violent incidentHaving their relationship with their non-violent parent underminedBeing taken hostage to force mother to return homeBeing forced to relay messages, spy on, or monitor the motherExperiencing the loss of a parent due to murder/suicide.
7The Most Dangerous Time The most dangerous time for a battered woman is when she finally decides to leaveAs many as 75% of DV calls made to police and 73% of the emergency room DV visits occur during or immediately following separationOf women killed by their abusers, 70% are killed during the process of trying to leave.
8Children Witnessing DV In approximately 19% of femicides, children are also killedIn 71% of cases a child either witnesses the femicide or is the first to find body.
9Children Affected by DV Children Affected by Trauma
10Brain DevelopmentBrain development and growth is profoundly “front loaded” such that by age four, a child’s brain is 90% of adult sizeThe fastest “spurt” begins in the last trimester and is at least 83% postnatal, continuing to about months of age.
11Brain DevelopmentDuring this great ‘brain” growth between -9 – 4 years of life, a child’s rapidly developing brain organizes to reflect the child’s environmentNeurons, neural systems and the brain change in a “use-dependent” wayPhysical connections between neurons (synaptic connection) increase and strengthen through repetition, or wither through disuse…Cells that fire together, survive together, and wire together.
15Responses AffectedIn a state of fear we retrieve information from the world differently than when we feel calmIn a state of calm, we use more complex parts of the brain (neocortex) to process and act on informationAs perceived threat level goes up, less thoughtful and more reactive responses surface; actions are governed by emotional and reactive thinking styles (limbic and diencephalon).
16Base-line Stress Levels Affected Flight or flight: hyperarousal response, may display defiance, resistance or aggression. Often display hypervigilance, anxiety, panic or increased heart rate. More common in older children, males and circumstances where trauma involved witnessing or playing an active role.Freeze: dissociative response, may involve avoidance, withdrawing from the outside world. Child may be compliant (even robotic), display rhythmic self-soothing such as rocking. Most common in young children, females and during traumatic events characterized by pain or inability to escape.
18Trauma is Intergenerational P, SuicideIPV victim“Accidental”shootingIncarceratedDrug useDrug use
19Creating a Context for Children’s Healing A sense of physical and emotional safety in current surroundingsStructure, limits and predictabilityA strong bond with the nurturing, non-violent parent is one of the best predictors of a child’s ability to recover from traumaThe child must feel that the parent can protect themThe child must recover his/her respect and/or confidence in the parentThe child must feel that the surrounding social environment supports them bring close to that parent.
20Context for Children’s Healing, con’t Not to feel responsible for taking care of adultsContact with the battering parent if it can occur with adequate protection for the child’s physical and emotional safetyA strong bond to siblings.
21Batterer’s Manipulations After Separation: Disrupting Healing Children can be used as primary weapon to:Pressure partner to reunifySending messages through childrenParentification of childrenNeglecting/abusing childrenRetaliateThreatening to obtain “custody of children”Blaming/Undermining relationship with non-violent parentSpying, Cyberstalking through childrenPet abuseSabotaging children’s relationships with therapists, medical personnel, child careIsolating children from support/peersNeglecting/Abusing children.
22Back to Injunction: The Chain of Events Petitioner (80-85% of domestic violence survivors are women) files for injunction for protection with childrenTemporary injunction is granted; petitioner is given 100% timesharingRespondent is served and all that is seen is SHE IS LEAVING…NO ACCESS TO THE CHILDRENRespondent loses control and blames survivor for denying his rights to his children….Chaos…..escalation….danger.
23How Can We Minimize the Danger Demystify/Empower/De-escalate: Brochure or handout that is served on Respondent with temporary order or order setting hearing:Explains that the temporary order is temporaryTell Respondent he/she will get the opportunity to present evidence before Judge makes a final decisionWarns about consequence of violationsAssures Respondent that timesharing will be addressed by the Judge at the final hearing and prepares the Respondent for the possibility of mediation.
24Petitioner SafetyBrochure/handout given to the Petitioner when she/he applies for injunction and at the final hearing:Describes court proceedings, including mediation and her/his ability to opt outOutlines safety plan in home, community and courthouseExplains reporting violations proceduresLists community resources.
25In the CourtroomHave a good working relationship between bailiffs, mediation staff, victim advocates (Fla. Stat (6)(a)(6)) in which safety is the top priorityExplain the parameters in which you will use mediation and/or dv victim advocates in the courtroom.
26When to Address Time-sharing If parties are marriedIf paternity has been established by a circuit courtIf neither, then Respondents can be guided to resources that can assist them to open a family law caseThe responsibility of initiating a family law case should not be on the shoulders of the Petitioner.
27Determining Time Sharing: Mediation Fla. Stat (2)(c) In circuits in which a family mediation program has been established and upon a court finding of a dispute, (the Court) shall refer to mediation all or part of custody, visitation, or other parental responsibility issues as defined in s Upon motion or request of a party, a court shall not refer any case to mediation if it finds there has been a history of domestic violence that would compromise the mediation process…however, if the petitioner knowingly agrees to the process and the scope is narrowly defined……and if there is a victim advocate (Fla. Stat (7))Cases should be referred after a final injunction has been ordered and the judge has determined that timesharing will be supervised or unsupervised.
28Mediation, con’tMediators must have specialized training in domestic violence mediations (contact Circuit 8, Beverly Graper,Mediators review all files before court and are present in courtroomAll mediations are conducted caucus styleAll mediators:Understand the dynamics of power and controlAware of the effects of dv on childrenUnderstand survivor trauma behaviorFamiliar with supervised visitation center options and safe public pass-off locationsFamiliar with Family Wizard and other such servicesUses template for “tight” high-conflict parenting plansKeenly aware of information, verbal or non-verbal, that is passed from one party to the otherHave safety support to transport both themselves and petitioner to mediation suiteUnderstand that any threat to mediator by Respondent is outside confidentiality.
29Assistance in Determining Time Sharing Supervised Visitation CenterSupervised Visits with neutral third partySafe public pass-off locations (strict timeframes)PublixSheriff’s officeBanks.
30Child SupportBest Practices Model on Child Support in Domestic Violence Cases.
31Judicial ResourcesNational Council of Juvenile and Family Court JudgesNational Center for State CourtsNational Online Resource Center for Violence Against WomenFlorida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
32Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic Thank YouTeresa Drake, J.D.DirectorIntimate Partner Violence Assistance ClinicUniversity of FloridaLevin College of LawThis project was supported by Grant No.: WL-AX-0006 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.