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Working with Children in Transition House & Counselling Settings

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Presentation on theme: "Working with Children in Transition House & Counselling Settings"— Presentation transcript:

1 Working with Children in Transition House & Counselling Settings
Renee-Claude Carriere, Kaushees Place: Whitehorse Shelly Bonnah & Allan Wade, Centre for Response-Based Practice

2 1 in 10 children under the age of 18 have witnessed
a family assault in the past 12 months and 1 in 5 have witnessed a family assault at some point in their lifetime. Victims of Crime Org/2013

3 « Supporting mothers to be mothers »
Ability to Protect… « Supporting mothers to be mothers »

4 It Just Makes Sense “Working with children together with their mothers just naturally seemed like the right thing to do. For a time, there was push to take kids aside, to interview them and to do programming with them apart from their mothers. Working in a transition home, I saw that as not productive. I was not comfortable with that way of working. Many of the women I had worked with had had their children apprehended. For many of our First Nations clients in particular, if I was to take their children aside, I could be seen as a child protection worker, as a threat. I did not see that as productive.”

5 “Where we begin to break the so-called inter-generational cycle of violence is where we help children see their mother as a good mother, as a mother who protected them.”

6 Why we work the way we do Men who use violence often aim to invalidate the woman as a mother and damage the mother-child bond, both during the relationship and often long after separation. In this context, it is especially important to respect and restore the relationship between mothers and children. This principle is central to the work at Kaushee’s Place. Wife-assault is “parental alienation”.

7 Supporting them, Together
Many women, especially First Nations women, have had their children apprehended, or were themselves apprehended as children. The threat of Ministry involvement is ever-present in their relationships with their children, and in their communities. In this context, separating the women and children can create fear and doubt. The transition house worker can begin to look like a child protection worker. This is not productive.

8 30 days… In transition houses we have only 30 days to work with mothers and children. It’s usually more beneficial to spend time with women and children together, work with the conversations that come up naturally, and use the opportunity to support the women as mothers.

9 Shopping trips I found that when I hung out with moms and kids, on shopping trips and car rides, they would open up and talk a lot about important concerns. I saw that helping children see their moms as good and strong individuals, as someone who protected them, not as someone who failed to protect them. The more we hang out and have conversations, the more I can point out: “Your Mom’s not lazy” and “Look how hard she works”. They are often very small and subtle comments, but very helpful for children and mothers. Children start to see that their mother works hard, is not stupid and does love them.

10 Shifting the message This is where Response-Based ideas came in handy. We were already trying to change the messages the children were hearing, and talking to other service providers about why that was important. Children were hearing their mothers being blamed and they were very confused. Say what you see, spell out the good things, in front of the child, the positive things the mom does to keep him safe and how she’s a good & hard working mom.

11 Children can begin to see that the things Dad was saying were not true.
We can go further to work on the confusion and I would say: Yes maybe what Dad said about Mom isn’t true. It’s Okay to be mad at Dad for that and you can still love him. Childen may fight these positive statements, but time and continued reinforcement will help, and using more subtle ways like directing the comments toward the mom can be useful.

12 Gently stir You cannot push praise on the mother or challenge the children’s feelings. But you can gently and almost imperceptibly provide another view; another way to understand and therefore another way to feel.

13 We protected each other
Having conversations with mothers and children about incidents and the way they responded will allow them to see the way: They always had each other’s back They protected each other They always had each other interests at heart Her children were protecting her Their mother did not fail to protect them

14 Worst time in your life Mom still has a lot to deal with: Separation
Custody Housing Health issue Grief It’s not time to teach or give tools, but to be an ally and strategize with her.

15 Creating an environment to support the mother-child relationship
Working with mom and child Not separating mom and child during crisis mode Honour time when mom and child need to talk about what happened and how each responded Honour how they work as a team to keep each other safe.

16 Parenting at time of crisis
Reframing perspective on mother’s parenting skills during crisis by: Identify how hard-working she is and has been managing a terrible situation How she pushed back violence and minimized it’s impacts By speaking about how she responded and resisted to the violence, she will see all the ways he was abusive and she will stop second-guessing her assessement of the situation.

17 Parenting in safety Have a conversation of what parenting looks like when you are safe How it can be different than when you fight to keep your child and yourself safe How children may start acting like children and be loud, rowdy and playful. How they may act out as they start to feel safe.

18 Children and response-based
Children respond well to the Response-Based approach because it is concrete. Ask them what they did, and they will tell you the stories of how they protected their siblings, their mom and themselves. This will help to identify and outline all the ways in which each member of the family respond to violence and worked to minimize the danger and uphold dignity.

19 Safety planning with children
You did just that… When you asked them what they did When they told you how they protected their siblings, their mom and themselves All the ways they responded and resisted to violence

20 Joce Example

21 Universal Abilities to Respond & Resist Violence
Nathan’s Story

22 Nathan’s Story (Age: 10 yrs)
   Mom, dad, Sarah and me lived in a house all together for 3 years… What was that like? I used to hide in my room a lot. Sarah would come running in and hide under my bed. What did you do when she would come running into your room? After the first 10 times I got used to it, so it was nothing new. I also hid under the bed sometimes. Why do you think she came into your room?

23 Sarah did have her own room, but she didn’t like hiding in it
Sarah did have her own room, but she didn’t like hiding in it. If she wanted me to when she was under my bed, then I triple sealed my door… Triple sealed your door… How did you do that? I got pillows and duct tape. I put duct tape on the top and bottom so no one could open the door…to keep dad out. Then I put 3 pillows on all the sides of the door to keep out the noise. The only time we could hear was when they were really yelling…Those times I would play my video games really, really loud…. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of anything so smart before to keep out noise and protect a sister… Ya…no one could get in unless they had a knife.

24 Hmmm. I play video games. It makes me content so I don’t …so I don’t go out there and separate them. How did you learn that it’s a better idea to keep yourself as content as possible, rather than go out there and separate them? I’ve tried to separate them. To defend mom would be suicide. Everytime I tried I got red marks. Sometimes he wears his boots…he would kick me or slap me. Once he smacked me so hard the red marks didn’t go away for a week. I didn’t do anything for that…I didn’t deserve it. …Sounds like you have tried to defend your mom, yourself and Sarah. Sometimes it works but sometimes it really doesn’t. What else do you do?

25 One time me, mom and Sarah all hid in mom’s room and locked the door
One time me, mom and Sarah all hid in mom’s room and locked the door. We watched Mario brothers. We were going to have a Christmas party, but he phoned everybody so that they didn’t come to our party. I showed mom how to barricade the door. Sarah cries and hides when she is scared. I usually be quiet to Gino [dad] because he would slap me if I said something to him.

26 Do you want to keep talking about this
Do you want to keep talking about this? Like where you were when everything happened? I came to the balcony while they were by the van. I yelled “Mom” when she got pushed down. Tears were coming down my face. I knew it wouldn’t stop things. I knew that for a fact. I wouldn’t expect him to stop because I yelled. It was kind of obvious that this would happen. What did you do then? I stayed and watched the rest. He drove away with Sarah and my mom was lying on the ground crying and then she looked up and saw me there.

27 Then what happened? Mom came in and talked to me. I tried to support her. I said “Everything will be alright” and she said “No. everything won’t be alright”.

28 Responding to Social Responses
Justin’s Story

29 Amanda Todd: ‘Bullying’ is not an accurate description
VIOLENT ACT RESPONSE/RESISTANCE SOCIAL RESPONSE If you don’t put on a show for me, I will show ur boobs (blackmail, distribution of child pornography) I got really sick, anxiety, major depression and panic Knock at my door at 4 am from the police. He knew my address, school, relatives, friends, family names (stalking) I got into drugs and alcohol. My anxiety got worse. I lost all my friends and respect. My photo was sent to everyone (blackmail) My anxiety got worse. I couldn’t go out Then nobody liked me.

30 VIOLENT ACTS RESPONSE/RESISTANCE SOCIAL RESPONSE The guy made a new facebook page…my boobs were his profile. I cried every night. I started cutting. They started name-calling…judging me… The girls said…look around…nobody likes you. I thought nobody deserves this. I didn’t have any friends and I sat at lunch alone. She threw me to the ground and punched me several times I wanted to die so bad. I drank bleach. I saw on facebook “she deserved it. I hope she’s dead”

31 Obscuring Violence With Language
ACCURATE LANGUAGE Cyber-bullying Extortion/blackmail Date Rape Rape Sex Tourism Rape of Children Abusive Relationship Violence used against (her) Overly Attentive Stalking

32 Fit the Word to the Deed…
Conflict Teasing Bullying Harassment Abuse Violence Extortion Stalking Blackmail Rape

33 Nicki Weld & Maggie Greening (in Turnell & Essex)
Good things Worries Dreams 3 houses. . . and a rickety response-based shed (Wade, 2010).

34 Karin (15) Carolina: Can I ask in those situations when you were scared and felt like something was wrong, did you feel like you could do something then? Karin: No, that was the thing. I was so little and had so many feelings. Sometimes I could say to daddy, please dad please be quiet, don’t be bothered by what mummy says. I played along with him for a while and played along with him and thought this will help and pretended that mummy was the one who was sick. So I said that if you could only be quiet don’t be bothered by what she is saying you know she is wrong (pause) so be quiet and go outside and be angry.

35 Margareta: Have things been okay at home?
Lotta (9) Margareta: Have things been okay at home? Lotta: Yes, but then yesterday mum and dad started fighting about something, but I just closed my ears. Margareta: What do you do when you close your ears? Do you use something to put in your ears? Lotta: No, I try not to care or try to talk to them about something else. Then I listen to really loud music so they’ll get angry at me instead.

36 What joint and individual capacities are revealed in mothers’ and
children’s responses to violence? How can we work to honour these capacities in the course of our daily work? How do we acknowledge mother’s ability to protect their children?


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