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New position brief on the need to address child abuse and intimate partner violence together

March 09, 2017 at 5:48 PM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) has published a new position brief on the need to address intimate partner violence (IPV) and child abuse and neglect (CAN) together.

The one-page brief sets out Six reasons we cannot be effective in reducing intimate partner violence or child abuse and neglect unless we address both together.

The brief states:

"Expecting adult victims to protect their children themselves gives them the responsibility for stopping their partner’s violence. This is an impossible task and fails to acknowledge the barriers (coercive control, structural violence and inequities) they face in attempting it. While adult victims generally resist the abuse of their children and themselves, this resistance does not stop their partner’s violence.

Focusing on what adult victims are doing to keep their children safe diverts attention away from the partner/parent using violence. This results in a failure to assess and address the  level of risk and danger his behaviour poses to both child and adult victims."

The six reasons outlined are:

  • Intergenerational violence requires an intergenerational response
  • The decision to abuse a child’s parent is a harmful, unsafe parenting decision
  • 'Failure to protect' approaches fail to respond to both child and adult victims' safety needs
  • Protecting children means acting protectively towards adult victims
  • To prevent family violence, we must work with the people using violence
  • Victims' safety is a collective responsibility: it cannot be achieved by individuals or individual agencies acting alone

In its Fifth Report: January 2014 to December 2015, FVDRC set out changes required in child protection practice. The report states,

"... a move towards IPV-competent child protection policy and practice requires a comprehensive assessment of risk, safety and protective factors and increased practitioner engagement with partners/parents who are using violence. Such an approach raises the parenting standards expected of abusive fathers by bringing into view the impact of their behaviour and choices on child, family and whānau functioning. This approach is also relevant for the Children's Teams." 
(page 102 in chapter 5.3: Child protection responses)

This approach draws on the Safe and Together model developed by David Mandel and Associates. This includes the following:

  • "A clear understanding that the perpetrator’s behaviour, not the adult survivor’s behaviour, is the source of the child risk and safety concerns
  • An articulation of the impact of the perpetrator’s behaviour on the child and family functioning
  • Child protection systems increase their assessment of, and engagement with, men as parents. Child protection systems improve their ability to assess the protective capacity of the adult victim." (page 103, FVDRC Fifth Report)

Further details is provided in the Safe and Together Continuum of Domestic Violence Practice. This framework identifies five systemic stages for child welfare systems, from domestic violence incompetent (Destructive, Neglectful) to domestic violence-informed (Competent, Proficient). The purpose of the framework is to provide a method of self-evaluation and a road map for change for child welfare agencies and their partners such as courts, domestic violence advocates and others.

Related research and resources

Additional research and resources are highlighted below.

Honor Our Voices: Children’s perspectives of domestic violence, MINCAVA
(An online learning module providing you with the opportunity to see domestic violence through the eyes and voices of children.)

Howarth, E., Moore, T.H.M., Welton, N.J., Lewis, N., Stanley, N., MacMillan, H., Shaw, A., Hester, M., Bryden, P. and Feder, G. (2016). IMPRoving Outcomes for children exposed to domestic ViolencE (IMPROVE): An evidence synthesis, Public Health Research, Issue 10.

Hooker, L., Kaspiew, R., and Taft, A. (2016). Domestic and family violence and parenting: Mixed methods insights into impact and support needs: State of knowledge paper, ANROWS Landscapes, Issue 1.

Humphreys, C. (2012). Keeping children safe: Challenges in post-separation parenting, DVRCV Quarterly, No. 2, Winter 2012: 5-8. (Focused on revenge child killings)

Bancroft, L., Silverman, J. G., and Ritchie, D. (2012). The batterer as parent: Addressing the impact of domestic violence on family dynamics (2nd ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Book available for loan from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse library.

Humphreys, C. and Absler, D. (2011). History repeating: child protection responses to domestic violence. Child & Family Social Work, 16: 464–473.

Hester, M. (2011). The three planet model: Towards an understanding of contradictions in approaches to women and children's safety in contexts of domestic violence, British Journal of Social Work, 2011, 41: 837-853.

Edleson, J. L., and Nissley, B. A. (2011). Emerging responses to children exposed to domestic violence. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet - The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, and National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Humphreys, C. (2010). Strengthening the mother-child relationship in the aftermath of domestic violence. Strengthening service support and safety: Mothers, children and change, Video UNSW TV: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
(30 min video
 recording of a conference presentation)

Aotearoa New Zealand

Murphy, C., Paton, N., Gulliver, P., and Fanslow, J. (2013). Understanding connections and relationships: Child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and parenting, New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse: Issues Paper 3.

Murphy, C., Paton, N., Gulliver, P., and Fanslow, J. (2013). Policy and practice implications: Child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and parenting, New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse: Issues Paper 4.

Mittal, P. and Carrington, H. (2012). They didn’t see it. They were sleeping: The voices of children who live with family violence as heard by KIDshine, Shine.

Further information

Further reading on parenting, intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect can be found in the NZFVC library under the subjects of child exposure to violence and parenting.



Category: Reports