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An introduction to child welfare and domestic violence

May 2003 Domestic Violence: Special thanks to these authors for sharing this wonderful resource. Their 2-year-old son was nearby Lacour, 2003.

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In some cases it can even mean the difference between life and death. Before you can intervene effectively, however, you must understand this common form of family violence. Definition Domestic violence is the establishment of control and fear in an intimate adult relationship through the use of violence and other forms of abuse. The aim of domestic violence perpetrators is power and control over victims.

Domestic violence takes many forms. Abusive behaviors used by perpetrators, also called batterers, include physical, sexual, and psychological attacks; economic oppression; intimidation; threats; manipulation and maltreatment of children; and isolation. Domestic violence can occur in heterosexual relationships, same-sex relationships, and teen dating relationships.

  • Taken together, these obstacles explain why many women choose to stay with their abusers, and why the ones who try to leave often find it so difficult;
  • Though there is some disagreement within the domestic violence movement about whether this cycle is applicable to all cases of domestic violence, every child welfare professional should understand this important theory;
  • The Dynamics of Leaving Usually a victim stays in an abusive relationship because of certain barriers;
  • Similarly, it should not be assumed that treating a domestic abuser's mental ill health will necessarily reduce their violent behaviour - again, the violence may increase;
  • We do not store financial information, credit card numbers or personal information like social security numbers on this Web site.

Violence of this kind occurs every year to women from all walks of life. In 2001, more than half a million American women 588,490 women were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner BJS, 2003.

Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to domestic violence BJS, 1995. Domestic violence can be fatal. On average, more than three women are murdered by their partners in the U.

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In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner BJS, 2003. Adults are not the only victims of domestic violence. Children live in many of the homes where domestic violence occurs: In some of these homes, children are maltreated by the batterer, his victim, or both. In the minority of cases when the adult victim of domestic violence abuses or neglects her children, her actions are often linked to the domestic violence.

However, some battered women will abuse or neglect their children whether or not they are being abused themselves.

There is also a link between an introduction to child welfare and domestic violence violence and child fatalities.

Even if they are not physically involved, often children know about domestic violence. As discussed below, witnessing domestic violence can have serious consequences for children. The number of children exposed to domestic violence is staggering. Causes Over the years, people have attributed the cause of domestic violence to factors such as genetics, illness, alcohol and drugs, anger, marital problems, and stress. Sometimes people even blame the victim, believing her behavior provoked the violence.

In truth, battering is a learned behavior. Individuals learn domestic violence in their families, communities, schools, peer groups, and in our culture at large.

It is reinforced through exposure to values and beliefs put forth by the media, education, religion, and other social institutions that directly or indirectly condone the use of violence against women. See Social Causes of Domestic Violence. Although in a sense battering is caused by our culture, from a legal and practical standpoint every perpetrator of domestic violence, like everyone else in society, is ultimately responsible for his abusive behavior, and for stopping it.

Batterers Batterers are individuals who believe 1 it is their right to use violence to get their way, and 2 they have a right to control their partners. Individuals who engage in domestic violence often receive reinforcement of these beliefs from peers and from authorities e.

Adolescents in dating relationships can also engage in domestic violence. Batterers come from every group and every part of society.

  • We must hold perpetrators, not victims, accountable for domestic violence;
  • Here are some of the conclusions agencies are reaching about effective child welfare practice with domestic violence;
  • We are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Internet web sites.

Batterers often have a public and private face, which can make it difficult for those outside of the family to tell what's really going on. Victims Like their abusers, the victims of domestic violence come from all racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, occupations, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, and ages.

Most victims of domestic violence are women involved in heterosexual relationships, although men and people involved in same-sex relationships can also be targets of intimate violence.

When battering occurs in same-sex relationships the tools of abuse are often different. Victims of male violence are no more likely than non-victims to have symptoms of psychopathology, to be hostile, or to abuse alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, research has found that as a group, battered women do not have a higher incidence of multiple abusive relationships.

The Cycle of Violence In the short term, whether it is the first incident of domestic violence or the hundredth, domestic violence is often marked by a particular cycle. In this cycle of violence there is a buildup of tension, followed by an abusive event not always physicalfollowed by contrition from the abuser and a period of relative calm.

The cycle then repeats itself. With some abusers this cycle gradually increases in frequency and intensity, putting the woman and her children at greater and greater risk Walker, 1979. Though there is some disagreement within the domestic violence movement about whether this cycle is applicable to all cases of domestic violence, every child welfare professional should understand this important theory. In order to protect themselves and their children, victims of domestic violence usually go to great lengths to prevent, anticipate, and avoid abusive episodes.

Ganley and Schechter 1996 note that actions women take include: Fighting back OR pleasing and placating the batterer Leaving to try to make things better OR not leaving for fear of making things worse Avoiding the batterer e. Though they may not work, these attempts may have been the best choice for her within the context of the abuse.

The Dynamics of Leaving Usually a victim stays in an abusive relationship because of certain barriers. Money is another major barrier.

Many women choose not to leave, or are forced to return to the abuser, because they cannot afford safe housing, health insurance, and the other things they and their children need to get by.

Community barriers, such as lack of support for leaving from peers and church, lack of job training programs, and lack of day care also an introduction to child welfare and domestic violence obstacles to victims of domestic violence.

There can be individual barriers as well. Recognizing this point helps us understand the ambivalence a women may feel about leaving her abuser. Taken together, these obstacles explain why many women choose to stay with their abusers, and why the ones who try to leave often find it so difficult. Domestic violence affects its adult victims in an introduction to child welfare and domestic violence number of ways.

In addition to physical injuries, batterers often inflict emotional and psychological damage on their partners. Normal emotional responses to battering include fear, denial, anger, guilt, and feelings of helplessness. Some of the more serious psychological consequences of battering include depression, post traumatic stress disorder PTSDand substance abuse.

As is the case with child maltreatment, when the domestic violence is severe and chronic, victims are more likely to suffer serious effects for a longer period of time.

However, many victims recover well from the effects of the abuse once they are safely out of the abusive situation and properly supported. For example, injuries caused by the batterer may prevent a mother from getting out of bed in the morning, so that she cannot feed her children and tend to their needs. Even when she is physically capable, batterers may interfere with proper care of the children e. With appropriate intervention, most victims of domestic violence can provide proper care for their children.

Children who see, hear, or are otherwise aware of domestic violence in their homes experience a broad range of responses. Some appear to be unaffected. Others experience negative developmental, emotional, psychological, and behavioral consequences.

Indeed, some children who live with domestic violence demonstrate the same symptoms as children who are physically abused and neglected Mecklenburg, 1999.

A number of factors may influence how an individual child responds to being exposed to domestic violence. Short-term effects in children exposed to battering include PTSD, sleep disturbances, separation anxiety, depression, aggression, passivity or withdrawal, distractibility, concentration problems, hypervigilance, and desensitization to violent events.

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Child observers of domestic violence also tend to have a higher rate of academic difficulties than other children Weinstein, 2002. Once safety and security are provided to these children, symptoms tend an introduction to child welfare and domestic violence disappear. Although much less common, the long-term effects of exposure to battering can include delinquency, higher risk for substance abuse, a propensity to use violence in future relationships, and a pessimistic view of the world Weinstein, 2002.

Certainly this is the conclusion reached by a federal judge in the case Nicholson v. Defining witnessing as maltreatment is a mistake. He bases this conclusion on the research showing that not all children are negatively affected by domestic violence, and upon evidence from experts. We now understand the dynamics of power and control that exist in these abusive relationships, the strategies employed by batterers and their victims, and the negative effects domestic violence has on the safety and well-being of adult victims and their children.

Here are some of the conclusions agencies are reaching about effective child welfare practice with domestic violence: Screening for domestic violence must be universal and ongoing. We know domestic violence is relatively common in the families involved with child welfare.

We also know battering can have serious, negative effects on children and their caregivers. Children cannot be safe unless their mothers are safe.

Therefore child welfare interventions must address domestic violence. We must provide battered women with appropriate supports, including help with safety planning. We must hold perpetrators, not victims, accountable for domestic violence. To do this DSS and other agencies should collaborate to ensure batterers are the focus of appropriate legal and therapeutic interventions. Effective intervention and meaningful consequences make it clear to adult victims and their children that help is available and that they are not responsible for the abuse NCCWDV, 2002.

The next article discusses some of the steps North Carolina is taking to translate these conclusions into policies and practices that ensure the safety, permanence, and well-being of children exposed to domestic violence.

  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their partners in the U;
  • Disclosure of Information to Nonaffiliated Third Parties PCWRC will not disclose nonpublic personal information about you to other market participants that provide goods and services;
  • To Learn More Consult the following resources to learn more about this topic:

To Learn More Consult the following resources to learn more about this topic: A June 2003 special report by the National Institute of Justice describing the most common types of batterer intervention programs and evaluating two studies of batterer intervention programs.