NCAS DA presentation

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Transcript NCAS DA presentation

Living without
Supporting children who have experienced
domestic abuse
NSPCC and Women’s Aid
The problem
Domestic violence is extremely common
• 1.2 million women a year; two women a week are killed by a partner
or former partner.
It is recognised as a gendered crime
• Research shows that while both men and women can be violent, the
severity, extent and impact is different
• Women are much more likely to be physically harmed and report
greater levels of fear
• Men experience far fewer incidents of violence & impact is much
less. Men much more likely to say incidents are not worth reporting
• It is overwhelmingly women who experience a pattern of violence
over longer periods that can include physical and sexual violence,
psychological, and financial violence by a current or former partner –
coercive control.
Context – victims’ experiences
• 76% of all domestic violence incidents are repeat incidents (British Crime
Survey 2009/2010)
• Women have experienced an average of more than 30 incidents of abuse
before reporting
• Women are afraid of reporting to the police – with good reason
• The threat that children will be taken into care is a major influence on
women’s behaviour, is realistic, and is frequently used by perpetrators
• The most dangerous times for victims are when they leave or have just
left the abusive relationship
• 35% of the children in refuges who had been abused (and 29% in nonrefuge services) were still in contact with the perpetrator.
Domestic abuse and child protection
Children exposed to domestic abuse are at risk of serious harm. The wide
ranging physical, emotional, psychological and social impacts are evidenced
by a large and expanding body of research literature.
Exposure to domestic violence is commonly related to child protection
• It is a factor in two thirds of serious case reviews
• It is a factor in 60% of cases that lead to care applications
• An estimated 75% of children subject to child protection plans are living
with domestic abuse.
It is clear that responses to domestic abuse need to be at the core of work to
safeguard and protect children.
Impact on long term development
• Exposure to domestic abuse can have a profound impact on a child’s
developing brain, sense of self and capacity for regulating emotions
• Exposure to domestic abuse correlates with insecure & disorganised
attachment, delinquency & a trajectory for dysfunction in adulthood
• Resilience amongst children is associated with secure attachment to a
non-violent parent or other significant carer, strong support networks,
high levels of self-esteem and the capacity to be reflective
• The potential for breaking a sense of intergenerational abuse is
underscored by the fact that the majority people who grow up in violent
households go on to have healthy adult relationships
• Far from contributing to a sense of fatalism, the evidence base raises
questions about what can be done to help more children from suffering
long term harm and avoid re-enacting violent dynamics later in life.
Matching the scale of the challenge
• Widespread recognition of the harm suffered by children exposed to
domestic abuse does not adequately filter through to policy or practice in
the form of a satisfactory support offer
• There is an inadequate supply of dedicated support services for children
exposed to domestic abuse
• There are specific gaps for those highly vulnerable children who live in
households where a perpetrator continues to be present
• The evidence base relating to the effectiveness of many of the specialist
children’s services which do exist is limited
• Too often our response is only to “monitor” rather than support.
Challenges with the current response
• Services that could intervene early are doing so in the wrong way
because they don't understand the dynamics of DV
• Family courts are working on the basis that there is an inherent bias
against fathers. There is a lot of evidence that this is not the case
• Risk paradigm underlying the whole system is not working as
demonstrated by the extremely low correlation between who are
murdered and referral to MARAC
• Commissioners in local authorities don’t look at the “big picture” and links
between different aspects of service provision
• Children's services have seen the most severe cuts of all.
Support is not consistent across England
• 9,577 women and 10,117 children
were supported during the year
through refuge accommodation
• Over 82,000 women and 14,000
children were supported during the
year in non-refuge services.
The range of service provision varies:
• Around 180 domestic violence services
have funding for dedicated staff to
support children and young people
• Other services provide support, but may
not have a dedicated worker
• Some areas of the country have no
funding for refuge services.
A range of support needs
Specialist domestic violence children’s services
Support includes:
• Specialist refuge provision and outreach programmes
• Helping children come to terms with their experience of violence
• Addressing child protection issues
• Helping children access health care and mental health services
• Parallel working with the non-abusing parent
• Liaison with schools/ moving schools
• Providing a safe environment for play, recovery and development.
Women’s Aid train practitioners in any service to run:
• A domestic violence specific parenting programme which is fully evaluated
(You and Me Mum)
• A programme specifically for child survivors (Helping Hands).
What needs to be done
• Intervention in DV needs to be about creating the massive culture change
essential for women to come forward and report abuse earlier
• Need a paradigm shift to a needs led approach coupled with a flexible risk
assessment responsive to coercive control
• Avoid reinventing the wheel. There is a history of excellent work with
children in refuges and other specialist DV services
• Need for prevention, early intervention, and, when needed crisis
• Holistic responses - crisis and longer term support including counselling,
advice, group work, child
• Supporting and protect the mother is frequently the most effective way of
improving the safety of the child.
Time for a
Developing an evidence base
DART: A group work
programme for mothers and
their children, focused on
strengthening the care-giving
Caring Dads: A fathering
programme, helping fathers
understand the nature of
abuse and its impact on
Intervention and support can make a difference
Our evaluation of DART showed:
Mothers: Increases in Self esteem,
confidence in parenting, felt more
affectionate & less rejecting
Children: Fewer emotional and
behavioural difficulties, felt mothers
were more affectionate & less rejecting
With Caring Dads we saw:
Fathers: On average found being a
parent less stressful after
programme. They were interacting
better with children
Partners and children: Depression
and anxiety reduced. Most mothers
said some of the abuse reduced
Current nature of support and intervention
• Majority of current models are based on the Duluth model
• There are concern about the safety and ethics of including violent men in
• Split services: gender specific interventions with a clear focus on the
victim or perpetrator. Often exclude the male perpetrator and child(!)
• Lack of evidence re outcomes, yet known high recidivism rates
• Often a greater focus on “assessment of risk” rather than intervention
• Lack of family based interventions
• No clear focus on “prevention” of violence, with limited services for those
not convicted of offence
• Ofsted/SCR reports highlighting lack of engagement with fathers.
Need for range of interventions
Building on what we already have, we also need:
• Family based programmes or services that work on the dyadic
relationships within violent families
• Interventions for families where both parents are violent or where there
are violent mothers
• Home based intervention services
• Focus on intervention and change within families
• Focus on pregnancy and early childhood – age specific services
• Programmes that target domestic abuse, addiction and mental ill-health
• Early preventative work with adolescents on the nature of relationships.
Family based intervention
• Need for
• integrated
• approach
Relational approach
Research suggests that domestic abuse is not simply the result of
social learning and societal models of male domination (Duluth
model) but that pre-disposition / risk starts in the womb (epigenetics
and compromised brain development)… is then nurtured within
abusive and neglectful relationships (attachment)… is hardwired into
the child’s brain / nervous system (trauma)… starts to manifest in
early childhood behavioural problems (in the context of family,
school, peer and community relationships) and is then reenacted in
intimate (attachment) relationships with adult partners… is enacted
upon and in front of children…
A whole system ecological approach
There are multiple interacting levels of influence on the
dynamics of child development
A framework for understanding the causes and
consequences of maltreatment in infancy
(higher risk)
Outcomes in infancy
ing l)
ent ima
Par (prox
t al
ren ors
st r
to r
f ac
ily l)
Fam ista
Future development
Feedback loop
E.g. attachment, capacity for
reflective functioning
E.g. parental mental illness, domestic abuse,
substance abuse
E.g. family structure, size, employment,
income, assets, housing
E.g. Social networks, peers, neighbourhood
E.g. Culture and norms, attitudes to violence
[1] Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, K. (2005) Understanding child maltreatment. An ecological and developmental perspective; [2] Belsky, J (1980) Child
maltreatment: an ecological integration;
Attachment, neurodevelopment,
language, emotional regulation,
physical, cognitive and social
(social costs and consequences)
Theories and models
Time for more nuanced approach?
Based on the premise that:
• Children form relationships with their carers
• “Programmed” to form attachment relationships from birth
• At its heart, domestic abuse disrupts these attachments
• Seeks to prevent the intergenerational transmission of abuse
• Home based intervention programme working with families preseparation
Thank You