SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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1 SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Working with Children and Families Mary Kate Barry, IASW 2015

2 How are you? Grand Ask me In the hospital Please ask me In the clinic In the church Ask me, ask me, ask me. Broken nose,loose teeth, cracked ribs. Ask me. The Woman Who Walked into Doors (Roddy Doyle, 1996)

3 The Three Rs Recognise Respond Refer

4 Child Welfare and Protection Physical Abuse Sexual Abuse Emotional Abuse Neglect

5 Key Principles : HSE Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook Child Welfare is of paramount importance Early intervention and support Protecting children / parental rights Hearing the child s voice in ecological context Criminal dimensions Separate children only when all alternatives exhausted Prevention detection and intervention all require multidisciplinary approach. Adult services must consider impact of their clients difficulties on safety of children

6 Definition The use of physical force or emotional force or threat including sexual violence in close adult relationships. This includes violence perpetrated by a spouse, partner, son, daughter or any other person who has a close or blood relationship with the victim. The term Domestic Violence goes beyond actual physical violence. It can also involve emotional abuse, the destruction of property, isolation from friends family and other potential supports, threats to others including children, stalking and control over access to money, personal items food transport and the telephone. (The Report of the Task Force on Violence Against Women(1997), p.27)

7 What you need to know Some Stats Myths Why women stay Why victims don t tell What professionals don t ask Female, male perpetrators Grooming Working with perpetrators Guiding Social Work (SW) Principles Dos and Don ts Local services

8 Consider Women protection is child protection Risk Assessment Screening Safety Planning Coping Strategies Readiness to Change - Wheel of Change Mental Health Addiction Children Teenagers Minority Groups Legal Options

9 Some Statistics In calls were answered by Women s Aid 90% children likely to be witnesses 97% calls are from women Women likely to be abused 35 times before seeking help. And to make between 5 and 12 contacts before receiving help Most dangerous time is at the point of separation and 6 months after (76% homicides post separation) Some international research indicates 1 in 4 children witness violence to mother or stepmother 30% to 60% of Child Protection cases involve DV (not always explicit) 30%of DV begins or escalates during pregnancy 70% teenage parents experience DV 90% of homicides by men involve family member spouse or ex- partner Service providers fail to identify 78% of DV situations.

10 Assessment Child s immediate safety is always paramount First step is recognising DV And also consider: Exploratory questions Facilitating disclosure Once identified establish Most recent incident Nature of abuse (this may be disclosed gradually) Location, severity, frequency and duration. Children s involvement and response during and after Is child forced to participate or protect? Does child display any inappropriate behaviour Does the child display any emotional symptoms e.g. hypervgilence, attachment issues, inability to play or relax Behavioural issues in school or preschool Animals Consider impact over time on child s well being and development Consider mothers position on the wheel of change in the context of supports offered and time frame of these. Be explicit re evidence on which you base your assessment and analysis

11 Include in assessment Explore protective factors What other agencies are involved /permission or need to contact Garda involvement and nature of this Legal issues court proceedings existing or potential orders Breaches of orders Financial situation Isolation/ support network Are there community services either specialised or generic that might help the woman and the child.

12 How to respond -The do s Take her seriously and believe her Reassure her that the violence is not her fault Provide safe environment to disclose Avoid victim blaming statements Do not discuss with her partner Give priority to her and children s immediate safety Be positive and offer your support Remember that confidentiality crucial to her safety and be clear re limits of this Remember options may be limited by her resources Let her know she is not alone in being abused Consult with colleagues if unsure what to do Advise that she does not need to leave home to talk to someone and provide contact details for specialist outreach support. The decision to leave belongs to her. Keep in regular contact with her having established a safe way to do this. Make a safety plan. Keep good records

13 Don ts Ignore your intuition if you suspect a woman is being abused Don t insist on joint meeting her and partner together Do find a way to see her on her own Don t make choices for her Don t give partner information re her whereabouts Don t relay messages or facilitate contact for her partner Don t give up on her if process takes longer than you think it should

14 Indicators of Danger Threats or thoughts of homicide or suicide by victim or perpetrator Use of or access to weapons Extreme possessiveness, jealousy and obsession Physical attacks, verbal threats and stalking during separation Kidnapping or hostage taking Sexual assault or rape Prior physical abuse which resulted in serious injury History of violence with previous partners or children Psychopathology or substance abuse Attempted strangulation.

15 Guiding Principles DV is predominantly about abuse of power and control of men over women Safety of the victim and the child is paramount at all times Once substantiated the perpetrator must be held accountable Occurs in all sectors of community regardless of class gender sexuality or ethnic group Is often hidden. It must always be considered as a possibility throughout intervention. DV is significantly harmful to children at least emotionally and often coincides with physical and sexual abuse Violence is complex and requires cross agency and discipline approaches. DV requires clear policies procedures and on-going accessible supervision training and support Once established to be safe all efforts should be made to keep children with non offending parent. Women in DV situations have a right to autonomy and self determination. They are usually the best judges of how to manage their complex situations and highly skilled at doing so. Understanding these choices and working together with the victim is paramount to good practice. Interagency collaboration with needs of children, woman and perpetrator separately is often indicated. In a small number of cases men are the victims of D.V. When mutual violence is indicated all efforts should be made to establish who is primary offender and the dynamics underlying this.

16 Policy and Procedures Holt 2002 found that the absence of a team policy and practice guidelines with agreed definitions deterred effective interventions.

17 Benefits of Guidelines Workers more confident with issue Had a mandate to be flexible in approach More specific and clear in discussing impact on children with both parents Women more confident and trusting in worker More implicit screening occurring More alert to cues e.g. financial and other controlling behaviours ( its always something you re open to when taking on new cases. There s an awareness generally a checklist in my mind if needed ) Role clarification enhanced Good networking with community based support services One team seeing all children directly to assess risk and therapeutic needs Greater insight into children s needs More attention to promoting resilience, coping strategies and safety plans Better prepared for dangerous situations. Better sense by workers of change or movement towards safety as part of a process. Development of Group work with mothers and children.

18 Group Work Feeling listened to and understood Feeling that they were not alone Being respected in their decisions Having a space for sharing (both their stories and emotions, and information about resources and/or other services in their community); Gaining more knowledge about domestic violence Gaining proximity with other women through companionship and support Developing the autonomy to address some of their problems or concerns about their life situations

19 Further work identified More training e.g. how to screen explicitly as this is indicated in research as best practice Put safety issues more explicitly in map at supervision More discussion re involving men in the process at the same time as ensuring safety

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