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SAFE VISITATION ACCOUNTING FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN VISITATION PLANNING AND PROVISION Tracee Parker June 2015
ALLIANCE FOR CHILD WELFARE EXCELLENCE The Power of Partnership The Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence is Washington’s first comprehensive statewide training partnership dedicated to developing professional expertise for social workers and enhancing the skills of foster parents and caregivers working with vulnerable children and families.
Introductions • My background: Advocacy, mediation, supervised visitation, perpetrator treatment, clinical psychology, and research • Who are you? • What’s your role? • One issue that comes to mind when you think about this topic
Today’s Agenda • Introductions • Overview of DV & Coercive Control • The reality of DV • Visitation • Spectrum of access, accounting for safety • Mitigating the Impact of DV • Crafting helpful agreements, referrals • Consulting & Problem Solving • Theory versus practice
Behavioral Definition of DV • Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that at one intimate partner or spouse exerts over another as a means of control and may include physical and sexual violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, and emotional, sexual or economic abuse. • Commonly referred to as Battering, Intimate Partner Violence, Spouse Abuse
Conflicting Perspectives • Family Violence Perspective (it’s caused) • Mutual, incidental, “high conflict” • Pathological or substance abuse • Current Perspective (it’s a choice) • Power and control • Ongoing, tactical THESE ARE VERY DIFFERENT LENSES
My Biases: • Feminist Perspective: DV is grounded in patriarchy, sexism, historical context • Battering: Dominance, coercion, partner specific, instills fear, impacts mental health • No Gender Symmetry in Battering: Both men and women use violence but intent and impact differ greatly
Batterer Behaviors • Entitlement – I do because I can! • Physical, Sexual, Economic, Privilege • Psychological • Verbal, Humiliation, Crazymaking • Use of Allies • Kids, Family, Friends • Minimize, Deny, Lie • Externalize, Blame
Battered Woman Syndrome • Not applicable to most survivors • Cycle of Violence not true for many
Coercive Control • Withholding of autonomy / liberty • Individualized tactics are hard to describe or demonstrate impact • Chronic versus acute • Socially constructed inability to escape “A strategic course of self-interested behavior designed to secure and expand gender-based privilege…” Stark, 2007
Eight Domains of Control • Personal activities / appearance • Support / social life / family • Household • Work / economic / resources • Health • Intimate relationship • Legal • Immigration
Example • Demand = Physical appearance • Threat = Infidelity, humiliation, violence • Compliance = Maintaining acceptable weight • Surveillance = Monitoring food & exercise • Enforcement = Comparison • Response = Apology or retaliation
Remember… • Social Ecology – Context is EVERYTHING! • Who / what else is involved? • History • Resources • Cultural constraints • Resistance and Compliance – BOTH increase as control increases
Exploitation of Vulnerabilities • Instills FEAR of consequences • Not necessarily physical • Psychological blackmail • Crossing of boundaries • Physical • Emotional • Social
Vulnerabilities Exercise • How might this be used by someone who wants to control, harm, or undermine you? • What are some ways you might try to manage the potential for harm? It’s even more complex within family context!
Impact of Battering on Survivors • Crazymaking • Coping Strategies • Hypervigilance • Counter Intuitive Behaviors Reminder: There are no psychological tests available that can determine if someone is a batterer or a victim!
Survivor Behaviors • Resistance / Violence • Anger / Hostility • Exhaustion • Silence • Surrender • Escape • Depression • Substance Abuse • Alignment / Protection • Return
Child Behaviors • Shy, Withdrawn • Aggression / Anger • ADHD*** • Over Achiever • Mimicking Battering • Regression • Delayed Development • Alignment
Parenting & DV • Survivor’s behavior may seem counter intuitive • Staying / Returning • Physical discipline • Partner abuse is viewed apart from parenting • Battering IS A PARENTING CHOICE • Inappropriate expectations by batterer of child’s developmental stage
Post-Separation Battering • Lethality • Stalking • Child Abduction • Use of Systems & Services • DV Treatment Programs • Mental Health Therapists • Substance Abuse Counselors • Immigration Agencies • Victims Advocates • Social and Professional Networks • CASA, FCS, GALs • Child Protective Services • Supervised Visitation
For Example… • Tom accidentally shows up for his visit while Joey is visiting with Nancy. • Tom brings a Birthday card to the visit for Joey to sign and give to his mother Nancy at their next visit. The front of the card is a photo from the perspective of someone obviously about to go down the steep slope of a roller coaster with a pre-printed greeting inside that says, “No telling what surprises you’re in for on your birthday!” • Tom brings a birthday gift for Joey. It’s a remote control boat. • Joey asks his mother Nancy for the name of the place where she works again.
DV is Insidious [in-sid-ee-uh s] 1. a: awaiting a chance to entrap: treacherous b: harmful but enticing: seductive (insidious drugs) 2. a: having a gradual and cumulative effect: subtle (the insidious pressures of modern life) b: of a disease: developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent Merriam-Webster
The Continuum of Access • Unsupervised • Supervised exchanges (friend, family, professional) • Monitored visits (friend, family, professional) • Supervised visits (friend, family, professional) • No access
Considerations for Selecting an Option • Why might this be preferred? • Who will do it and how? • Safety planning: • Where, when, how exchanges or visits take place • Compliance issues • Documenting problems • Child development • Safety planning with kids
Supervised Visits • Why? • Need to remind EVERYBODY of the reason for supervision • EQUAL REGARD FOR SAFETY OF ADULT AND CHILD! • Who? • Friends, family members professionals • Collusion is always a possibility!
Supervised Visits, (cont…) • Where? • Inside, outside, who’s house, center • Expectations • Behavior guidelines • Food, guests, gifts • Documentation of problems • Scheduling issues
Professional Supervisors A important thing to know about professional supervised visitation in Washington State: There is NO: • Special licensing requirements • No regulation • No standards • No training requirements • No certification • No monitoring ANYONE can be a visitation supervisor!
Professional Supervisors, (cont…) Considerations when using a professional supervisor: • Domestic violence versus child welfare • Who are they supervising? • What do they document and why? • What are their security protocols ? • Do they force children?
Professional Supervisors, (cont…) • Do they report protection order violations? • Do they have DV-specific training? • What is the intake process? • Do they understand confidentiality? • Do they make decisions without consulting the social worker or adult victim?
Considerations For All Options • DV & Child safety planning is ongoing for all types of access and is ever-changing based on what’s happening right now • DV could be a factor in ANY case so best to err on the side of safety • Parents need support in helping their children in visiting their other parent
Crafting Visitation Agreements • What’s the relationship status? • Dating, cohabitating, married, separated, divorced, length of relationship • Confidential location? • Who else might be impacted? • Kids, extended family, friends, pets • Who else is involved? • Court, law enforcement, probation, health care providers, employers, school, daycare, etc…
Considerations for Social Workers • Stalking • Passing messages, tracking devices • Disclosures of confidential information • Location, new partners, legal actions • Threats / Intimidation • Visible and audible barriers, BEWARE of new partners and grandparents! • Manipulation • Scheduling, staff splitting, indirect threats
Preparing Parents • Outline and explain expectations, behavioral guidelines, and limitations • Explore scheduling options and prepare for problems • Ask about concerns regarding visitation • Answer questions • Ask about Food, Guests, & Gifts!!! • Document concerns (yours & theirs)
For Visit Supervisors • Provide copy of any protective orders • Explain primary referral reason and emphasize DV concerns • Outline expected safety protocols • Outline and explain expectations, behavioral guidelines, and limitations • Explore scheduling options and preparing for problems
Example • Describe what happened in the clip • What did the camera see? • It’s VERY difficult to separate out personal experience and perception from observed behaviors! • Remember role of supervisor is to provide safety
Documentation • What are we asking them to do? • Explain and review form and/or expectations regarding documentation • Descriptive NOT interpretive • Ongoing review and constructive feedback regarding documentation • ALWAYS document safety concerns!
AND Intervention! • What do interventions look like? • As non-intrusive as possible • Respectful, direct, concise, NO GUILTING • Be aware of physical location and stance • Impact of intervening • Follow up after intervention • With parent when calm, child if necessary • Debrief is important • Document concerning responses
Practice – What Would You Do? • Tom accidentally shows up for his visit while Joey is visiting with Nancy. • Tom brings a Birthday card to the visit for Joey to sign and give to Nancy at their next visit. The front of the card is a photo from the perspective of someone obviously about to go down the steep slope of a roller coaster with a preprinted greeting inside that says, “No telling what surprises your in for on your birthday!” • Tom brings a birthday gift for Joey. It’s a remote control boat. • Joey asks Nancy for the name of the place where she works again.
Working with the Court • (Disclaimer: This is my opinion!) The Court is more likely to consider restrictions on parenting if given examples (abduction, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse, manipulation, suicide/homicide threats, substance abuse, etc. ) of risks along with a reasonable plan to transition to less restrictive • Avoid specific time frames when possible – focus on behavior change
Our Responses • Looking through the “lens” of coercive control • What is the function of the behavior we’re witnessing? • What are the unique vulnerabilities that may be at play? • How might we be reinforcing battering?
Support • Safety First • Help non-abusive parent understand how specific behaviors and topics of conversation can compromise their safety • Collaborate - Who can help? • Know your community resources • Provide meaningful referrals • Keep learning about domestic violence • Consult with DV specialists
Let’s Try It Out! • Overall Goal of Visitation • Visit Plan – Recommendations • Visiting Plan • Parent’s participation • How plan will be helpful • Sibling visitation plan • Child’s Input • Parent(s) Input • Additional Comments
Remember… • Someone else’s safety and wellbeing could be at risk • Accountability does not have to be punitive, we can be respectful and direct about safety concerns and expectations • Acknowledge the challenges of changing core values or belief systems • Emphasize efforts to repair harm done by DV
Well, That’s Nice But… • What’s really going on? • Questions
Thanks for all you do for children and their families! Keep up the good work Tracee Parker tparker@psni. com 206 -351 -4939