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Author Topic: Domestic Violence Training Program - Committee on Domestic Violence  (Read 914 times)
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« on: January 11, 2009, 12:57:20 PM »

Domestic Violence Training Program
SIMMONS School Of Social Work , Massachusetts NASW Committee on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault  
Ann Fleck-Henderson (project director), Susan Jensen (project co-director)

The following are excerpts from this training program. This is a program for Massachusetts, but much of the information is universal.  The original source document can be seen here: https://sites.google.com/a/simmons.edu/dv-training/home

Defining an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence refers to abuse in an intimate relationship. Defining "abuse" or even "intimate relationship" is not as easy as one might first think.  

An intimate relationship is one in which two people, heterosexual or homosexual, are dating, living together, married, or separated. Basically, the two people are well known to each other and have, or have had, emotional ties to each other. In many cases, they will also have economic, family, and other ties.  

Abuse is difficult to define because it involves not only the behavior, but also the behavior's meaning to the people involved, as well as the intent behind the behavior and its effect.

Not all nastiness is abusive. Remember that people in intimate relationships almost inevitably have moments when they are hurtful to each other. If every such incident is considered indicative of an abusive relationship, the concept becomes meaningless, and the implications for response unclear.  

Forms of Abuse

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional (intimidation, denigration, humiliation), economic, or social (isolation of the victim). Because in intimate relationships the abusing partner usually knows the victim well, it is possible to be hurtful in ways tailored to the particular person.
Physical abuse is the most obvious. However, some physically aggressive behaviors, e.g. a slap, may not be abusive if done in self-defense or without frightening the target person.  

Sexual abuse includes a wide range of behaviors. A partner may be forced to have sex or perform certain kinds of sexual acts against their will. Other kinds of sexual abuse include denial of contraception or being forcibly subjected to pornographic or violent sexual material.

Emotional abuse includes systematic verbal humiliation and/or intimidating threats aimed directly at the partner or at what is precious to the partner. It may include attacks against property or pets. It may include threats of suicide or harm to self.

Economic abuse means control of financial resources in a way that blocks the partner’s access to them when needed. It may include denying access to money or credit cards; refusing to pay bills; denying food, clothing, transportation.

Social abuse means isolation of the victim, blocking access to social supports and resources. Possessiveness, jealousy, suspicions of sexual infidelity or emotional disloyalty, and/or extreme demands for the partner’s time and attention result in the partner’s increasing isolation.

Leaving and Staying?

You cannot assume that someone will be safe once they have decided to leave or have left an abusive partner. In fact, the opposite is true.
People are most at risk of violence when leaving, or having recently left, a relationship. Maintaining power and control over the partner is the essence of domestic violence. Leaving threatens the abusive partner’s control, and therefore often evokes greater violence.

In addition to the risks involved in leaving, many factors contribute to abused partners’ staying in a relationship.

Some of these are "external", such as: lack of housing or money; religious, family, and/or community dictates; lack of support from police, courts, clergy, friends or family.  

Some are more "internal", such as: desire to maintain the household; a wish to preserve the children’s relationship with the other parent; feeling responsible for the relationship and/or the partner’s welfare; love of the partner.

Sometimes the costs of leaving outweigh the benefits of escaping the abuse.

Interviewing and screening

Avoid loaded words. Some people who are dealing with a violent relationship do not define their situations as being "abuse" or "domestic violence". It is better to ask about behaviors and feelings, rather than using a label.  

For example, you can ask:  
• What happens when you and your partner have a disagreement?
• Have you ever been afraid of your daughter?
• Is there anyone in your life that is harming you?

You can also start with more general questions, such as:
• How would you rate your stress level?
• Have you noticed any changes in your eating/sleeping habits or how you spend your free time?

If the person describes a situation that you feel might be abusive, you can ask more specific questions about what happens in the relationship.

For example, you can ask:
• How often does your partner scare you?
• What was the scariest time you have had with your partner?
• Have you ever felt afraid you would be seriously injured or killed?
• Has your son ever hit you or hurt you physically?
• Does your boyfriend have access to, or has he ever threatened you with, weapons?  

Avoid questions that begin with "why"  Questions that begin with "why" can often sound accusatory to the individual being asked. A lot of battering behavior is geared towards making the victim feel responsible for the violence in their lives, so most survivors will have a heightened sensitivity to anything that might confirm feelings of self-blame. The batterer is the one who is responsible for the violence.

Ask questions that elicit broad responses.  Try to get as full a picture of the relationship and the survivor’s supports as possible. This will help you with safety planning and with determining how you can best help the individual with being safe.

Denial is a critical and useful strategy for survivors

It is difficult to meet the normal demands of life if you are constantly thinking that someone you live with is going to harm or kill you. Often, using denial permits one to do what needs to be done in life. Sometimes, on the other hand, denial will prevent the survivor from recognizing their immediate risk. When you think this is the case, it is important to voice your concerns for the person’s safety and your understanding of the situation. For example, "I need to tell you that I am worried about your safety. You told me that…. This makes me concerned that…."

Regard survivors as experts on their own lives

Although denial is common, survivors know their partners well and can usually judge pretty accurately what will increase their risk. If the person tells you that something you recommend will escalate the risk (place her/him in greater danger), this is probably true. If the person tells you that some other option has worked well for the family’s safety in the past, then support her or him in taking that step again now.

Indicators of Domestic Violence

Survivors of domestic violence are all unique, having different personalities, life experiences, and interactions with their batterers. In this regard, it is important to be open to the individual attributes and circumstances of the survivor with whom you are talking. At the same time, there are some dynamics and effects of abusive relationships that are fairly common, although not present in every case.  

• Most survivors will express some level of fear of the abusive person. This can range from terror to a general sense of unease or anxiety.
• Some survivors may appear to be generally anxious about things that you might not expect to cause anxiety, such as making a phone call from home, being late, or letting anyone know that they talked with you.
• Some survivors will have noticeable injuries when they are talking with you, or they may have a history of "accidents" or other poorly explained injuries.
• Many survivors are unable to maintain their desired degree of personal autonomy or privacy in their intimate relationship. Occasionally, persistent, desperate, and/or angry intrusions into the social work relationship may be part of this pattern.
• Some survivors will defer to their abusive partner for even simple decisions, such as spending a small amount of money, purchasing a needed item for a child, setting the date and time of their next appointment, or calling a friend to chat.
• Many people with a history of substance abuse also have a history of domestic violence. Drugs can serve as a way to self-medicate or as a way to bond with the batterer.
• Many survivors will have limited supports outside of the home and may report high levels of stress in their lives without necessarily naming the source of the stress.
• A survivor may have a history of repeated separation and reconciliation with the batterer.
• A few survivors of domestic violence will present as homicidal, feeling that they have no other way of escaping further harm from their batterer.

Inventory Strengths

Most survivors have some sense of what has been helpful to them in the past, although they may need someone to remind them of what they do and have done "right".

Ask questions that help you to learn about useful coping strategies and resources. Ask what the person has done in the past and what the outcome was.

As the person tells her or his story, be sure to acknowledge times he or she showed courage, resourcefulness, or strength. Note, for instance, how remarkable it is that, in spite of the abuse and how they might be feeling, they get up in the morning, take care of their children as well as they do, hold down a job, maintain friendships, or whatever "every day thing" the individual accomplishes.

• Ask specific questions about coping and self care—what activities, places, or people can and/or have functioned as an oasis for them, and is it possible to build on that oasis experience.
• Let them know that they have a right to feel the way they do, whether it is overwhelmed, terrified, angry, bitter, exhausted, tearful, desperate, or some other emotion.
• Let the person know that you know how much courage and strength it is taking for her or him to be talking with you about their situation.
• Ask specific questions about support people—does anyone in the individual’s life know about the violence, can they think of even just one person whom they would trust to start talking to about their situation, how have the other people in their life reacted to the situation.
• When it is feasible, work with the individual on a plan to further develop the strengths that have been identified.

A word about anger

A survivor may be very angry, volatile, and demanding. It is important to remember that the rage that the person is expressing is a coping strategy and is justified, even if it appears misdirected at you. Anger is energy, and, by understanding the root of the anger, you can help the person channel this energy in a way that will help them take steps.

Lethality indicators

Although they do not necessarily predict deadly assault, some indicators are considered “red flags”. These include:

• Past assaults which caused serious injuries  
• Threats to kill partner, self, children, pets, or others  
• Batterer’s substance abuse
• Batterer’s history of mental illness
• Access to and/or use of weapons
• Obsessive jealousy about and/or preoccupation with partner
• Stalking or monitoring partner

General Risk factors

Some conditions or characteristics, in addition to those above, are associated with increased risk of violence and injury. These include:
• Partner’s separating, threatening to leave the relationship, or attempting to leave
• Any intervention
• Unemployment of the abuser
• History of serious violence
• Youth – being under 30 years old

Note: Interventions increase risk in the short term, as does separation. Generally, risks increase when abusers perceive that they are losing control over their partner.
Protective factors

Protective factors are those characteristics or conditions which are associated with safety. Important protective factors include:
• Employment of batterer (who therefore has something to lose)  
• Employment of survivor (who therefore is less isolated)
• Social connections of survivor
• Access to resources of survivor
• Survivor’s ability to protect self and children in the past.  

Safety Planning

Safety planning is an ongoing process which needs to be revisited as decisions are made and changes occur in the survivor’s circumstances. Safety planning is a process of exploring options and resources. It is done individually with a survivor, as it must be based on her or his unique needs, circumstances, and choices. It is informed by an understanding of the survivor’s strengths as well as an assessment of the current risks.  

Safety planning should occur whether a survivor is remaining in an abusive relationship, preparing to leave the relationship, already out of the relationship, or deciding to return to it.  

Safety planning always involves the following:
• Information about local domestic violence resources and legal rights.
• Detailed plans in case of dangerous situations occurring.
• Identification of safe friends and safe places.
• List of essential items to take should one need or decide to leave home.
• Support and encouragement.
• Review of and building on what a survivor is already doing to manage and survive.

If the person is preparing to leave the relationship

Once a survivor decides to leave, she/he is potentially in the greatest amount of danger. Therefore, it is critical to reassess the level of risk while strategizing ways the survivor can safely leave.
In addition to what is listed above, the following are important if the person is leaving:
• A plan for where to go upon leaving.
• Possibility of using a domestic violence shelter.
• Supports (emotional and financial) in place.
• Consideration of obtaining a restraining order.
• Consideration of what to do if there is unexpected contact.

Leaving a Violent Relationship

Given that the batterer may be experiencing a loss of control, he/she may resort to new and potentially more lethal forms of violence. Therefore, it is crucial that the survivor's level of risk is reassessed continuously, a strategy for leaving safely is outlined, and supports are in place prior to leaving.  
A survivor’s safety plan at this stage of the relationship should include:
1) a specific plan for physically leaving and what to bring with them;  
2) options of where to go; and  
3) means to maintain safety.  

For example, a survivor may :
1) plan to leave the house while the batterer is at work, having packed some clothes, important documents, and a few sentimental belongings, with the assistance of her or his best friend;  2) choose to go to the best friend’s house temporarily until finding an apartment; and  3) plan to go to court to get a restraining order that afternoon, have an escort to and from the parking lot at work, and create a safety plan for what to do if the batterer appears at the friend’s house.  

In constructing a safety plan it will also be helpful to talk with the survivor about what might happen in the event that the batterer finds her/him after leaving or if there is some unexpected contact that is threatening.

Regardless of what decisions are being made, they need to be left up to the discretion of the survivor. The survivor is the expert and is the best one to anticipate how the batterer will respond to any changes that occur in the relationship.
Staying in a Violent Relationship

Many survivors decide not to leave their batterers for various reasons. This may be due to a lack of resources and support or because of the increased threat of violence.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 04:05:17 AM by Harri » Logged


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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 11:41:45 AM »

I gave this a low rating because it it is NOT gender neutral.  Many of the people on this board have experienced domestic violence, but the perpetrator is a woman.  It mentions resources, such as battered women's shelters - but where are the resources for battered men?

Unless something related to domestic violence is truly gender neutral, it does not deserve a positive rating - it should be rewritten to acknowledge that there are women who abuse men and these men deserve help and compassion.  Perpetrating the myth that only men abuse women should stop.
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2009, 04:08:06 PM »

It's very sad that there has been so little interest in this poll (only four votes, and two of them are from yours truly and my GF). I would expect that those of us who have a BPD in our lives would be more likely to have experienced DV or false allegations of DV than the average person.

I gave this article the lowest rating because of its bias. I read the entire article via the link provided. It has some helpful advice and, to their credit, they have tried to use gender-neutral terms (e.g. they refer to the "person", rather than the "husband" when referring to the perpetrator). However, some other quotes give their game away:

Results will vary depending on the populations studied, the definition of and criteria for domestic violence, and the research methods used.

• Different populations are studied, for instance: All women, cohabiting women, women in shelters.

Helloo, there's a clue!

There are over 35 battered women’s shelters across Massachusetts. These shelters provide a safe place for many women and children to escape the violence in their homes.

Domestic violence can occur in any relationship—heterosexual, homosexual, parent-child, child-parent, or sibling. It is important to take some time early in the interview to meet with the individual by themselves.

Note, they don't mention that men are jsut as likely to be the victims.

Here's one of their references:

Russell, D.E.H.(1982). Rape in marriage. N.Y.: Macmillan. Cited in Koss, M. et al., (1994) Male violence against women at home, at work, and in the community. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association., p. 44.

And... .

Given all the difficulties, what do we think we know?

   • Between 21% and 34% of all women will be physically assaulted by an intimate male during adulthood. (Straus & Gelles, 1990)

Another one... .


What does this mean?

   • The chances for a woman or homosexual man of being physically assaulted by an intimate partner over a lifetime are about one in four.

The bottom line is that they have presneted some useful tips for all DV victims, male and female, but I can't take this article seriously as it implies that the only victims of DV are women or gay partners in a homosexual relationship. They are pretending that half of the vicitms don't exist. Then there are the men who are falsely accused by their BPD ex's to gain an advantage in Family Court... .

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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2009, 04:21:03 PM »

Frog (and everyone),

This poll was posted several weeks ago, at a time when there were several threads around this topic - DV - and quite a bit of discussion about the common myth that DV is usually a man abusing a woman.  It may be that there were so few responses because we were all talked-out on the topic by the time this was posted.

A few key pieces of information along the lines of what you are suggesting - all supported by lots of evidence but I'm too lazy to look it up and cite it right now - it's out there:

* Victims of domestic violence are about equally male and female.

* The person who initiates the incident is male about half the time and female about half.

* Women and men are about equally likely to respond to violence with violence.

* Women are much more likely than men to call someone - the police, a neighbor, etc. - during an incident.

* The person who reports the incident is not always the victim - often the person who attacked makes the call to put the other party on the defensive.

* Accusations of domestic violence are often true, often exaggerated, and often completely false.

* Serious injuries in situations of domestic violence are about 50/50 men/women.  This is partly due to women being more likely to pick up an object and use it.

But... .many articles, studies, books etc. still assume that DV is a man hurting a woman, and don't even survey men to see how many have been the victim of DV.  And many articles etc. assume that accusations are true;  they often don't find out what evidence there was.

So... .yes, reading around this site, there are many many stories of DV, and it's very clear that it's not always a man hurting (or threatening) a woman.  But away from here, the very words "domestic violence" mean "a man hurting a woman" to many people, including professionals who should know better.

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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2009, 07:58:19 AM »

I thought this article was mostly gender neutral.  The reason why the support suggested are all directed toward women is that resources for men simply do not exist.  As a man, being honest with myself, even if they did I would have never taken advantage of it.  I'm a man; I can handle my stuff (I'm not saying that's true, but it's ingrained). 

Most of this article is pretty good.  I take issue with one line

Physical abuse is the most obvious. However, some physically aggressive behaviors, e.g. a slap, may not be abusive if done in self-defense or without frightening the target person.   

I find this line not really gender neutral because women slap, men hit.  And, if we're going to define things in terms of self-defense, depending on what is being defended against, anything goes.  But, I've been slapped before.  And, it was because of what I said, not any perceived threat.  This would have been defined as self-defense by my ex-wife (emotional attack. . . of course to her, not cleaning the bathroom to her standards was a deliberate emotional attack), but from my vantage point, slapping, pinching, name calling, yelling, etc. . . unnecessarily escalate a confrontation.  Violence is violence.  It doesn't matter if it "frightens" the target.  I was never scared of my ex-wife in the sense of impending physical doom.  In other words, that she was kicking or punching or slapping me didn't inspire much fear for my immediate well being.  Sure, it left a few bruises and occasionally blood.  But, I wasn't too concerned about getting hurt.  My fears were more along the lines of a) before the event, anticipation of ruining my day or evening with hours of rage b) that she might call the cops on me even though she was the one attacking me.  c) That she might break something (property) that I couldn't replace.  d) economic. . . how much more debt is the dumb-arse going to cause?

But, this quote does allude to something that isn't brought up in the article.  DV is often complicated because in most cases, both people are engaged in what would be considered abusive behaviors (yellling, name calling, physical violence, etc. . .).  The important distinction, usually, is about the dynamics of the relationship.  This is why these cases are very difficult to assess.  There is usually a pattern to the relationship.  One person is in the demand role and one person is in the react role.  Meaning, there is an aggressor/defender dynamic going on.  The aggressor is the instigator, the ultimate cause of the DV.  The defender is exactly that, someone who is attacked by whatever method the aggressor chooses, and responds.  Men are often put in a position, if they happen to be in the defender role, where they actually have far more power than the woman (physically).  In some ways, this plays into the woman's hands.  I often felt it was the goal of my ex-wife to get me to hurt her.  If I lashed out, it would do three things for her a) show her that I felt the pain she felt (something she was often rambling on about) b) make her feel less guilty for attacking me and c) make me feel guilty for responding (power for her).  Fortunately for me, I never really lost control.  But, I felt like I did.  E.g., When I was being attacked, as in she's actively on top of me, doing whatever. . . I might hold her down or block punches (by hitting her arms away).  In the process of this, did I ever squeeze or push her away harder than necessary?  Yes.  Did that ever cause bruising?  Yes.  Was I trying to cause pain?  I think so.  It's all very fuzzy now.  It's been a number of years.  What I do remember was a feeling of complete helplessness.  I was being attacked on all fronts (usually).  I could not escape (she made leaving a very difficult option... . 1) she'd take away key things (my keys, my glasses) and 2) She'd threaten to break things I couldn't replace.  Those situations felt interminable.  Here was this woman, who ostensibly was supposed to be my loving wife, saying the most vile things to me, yelling at me (with me pleading with her to keep her voice down; we lived in an apartment, it was embarrassing), keeping me up all night (this stuff often went from around when I got home from work through way past bed time), physically cornering me, blocking doorways, chasing me through the apartment, hitting me, jumping on me, kicking me, stabbing her fingernails into my arms, and slapping.  This alternated with her demanding that I apologize to her (so it would cycle from violent to verbal through the night).  I did pretty well early on, maintaining a serene state.  But, by the end of one of these things, I literally wanted her head to explode (I could visualize it).  It took a lot of will power not to completely lose it (ala Chris Brown; I'm not saying Mr. Brown was in any kind of defender role).  Over time, I was able to detach during the rages and not really respond at all.  But, that was a learning process.  So, I guess my point is that DV doesn't happen in a vacuum.  These are dynamic situations and because of the chaos that goes on when a partner chooses to escalate to this, they are very dangerous situations on multiple fronts.  I feel somewhat damaged by the feelings I had in these confrontations.  And, for a long time, I was convinced that I was domestically violent.  Now, I don't see it that way.  I see what I did and felt as natural reactions to years of attack.  What I am guilty of is staying too long.  Meaning, the first time she raged at me and touched my aggressively, I should have left.           

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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2009, 12:12:39 PM »

Here are some department of justice domestic violence figures:
1,247 women were murdered and 440 men murdered in 2000 (domestic violence)
2001 DOJ
Rape/Sexual Assault
Aggravated Assault
Simple Assault
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 04:04:01 AM by Harri » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2009, 12:30:13 PM »

Hey Skip.  Sorry to follow you around on these.  Here is one research study from the international dating violence survey.   


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