Tag Archives: Amanda Holt

#CPV: What does it look like, part 2. Intent stuff

One of the issues that makes it difficult for us all to talk about child to parent violence and abuse is the fact that there is no one agreed definition. The one I tend to use when speaking to people is that proposed by Amanda Holt:

“A pattern of behaviour, instigated by a child or young person, which involves using verbal, financial, physical and /or emotional means to practice power and exert control over a parent”, and “the power that is practised is, to some extent, intentional, and the control that is exerted over a parent is achieved through fear, such that a parent unhealthily adapts his / her own behaviour to accommodate the child.”

For me this seems to be broad enough, while encompassing the main features of what I am thinking and talking about. It builds on and refines earlier definitions that have been proposed. But the more I speak with other people, the more I realise that everyone’s experience is different and there are many, many parents who experience something that looks and feels very similar without necessarily ticking all the boxes. I wrote about this most recently in a post at the end of March, when I started thinking about the boundaries and edges of the definition we use. This is an issue that troubles me because it seems that a lot hangs on how readily we start to bring different aspects of violent behaviour into the CPV camp. Today I want to think about intent more specifically, and I hope that you will feel free to join in the conversation in the comments section.

A couple of months ago, Al Coates posted about the definition of child to parent violence, following discussion with other members of the adoptive community, some of whom felt unsure that perhaps theirs “didn’t count”. He and Dr Wendy Thorley further grapple with the discussion in their final paper about Adoption and CPV. The question of intent can be tricky, as parents may talk about a child sometimes acting out of frustration or trauma, and at other times choosing very deliberately to hit in a controlled way.

Consider this family …

 

A child in crisis, or triggered by a particular situation, dysregulated, out of touch with all going on around them, may cause a great deal of harm to their surroundings, to those around them whether adults, other children or animals, and also to themselves. That is not to say that, in that moment, those around them will not experience the violence, terror even, and find themselves forced to change their own behaviour, then and in the long term. But the element of intent is surely absent.

Another child – and perhaps even that same child – may on another occasion, show remarkable discernment and control in the manner in which they choose to act. They may target precious possessions in their rages, they may choose words they know will cause the most hurt, they may kick where there are already bruises.

 

As we learn more about the families who are experiencing violence and abuse, we see a huge range of issues which can contribute to the abuse, often layer upon layer in one child or family. As we start to think about responses, we need to unpick these issues. Different approaches for different situations; a trauma-informed response here, a behaviour oriented response there. Elements of each in different situations? There is certainly no blanket “one size fits all” answer.

Why does a definition matter? Are we simply being pedantic by arguing about intent? In a fast developing field such as child to parent violence, where knowledge and understanding is growing all the time, is it not inevitable that definitions are refined? Well, yes! But in a fast developing field it is also important that we know what we are talking about; that people sharing knowledge are talking about the same things; that parents can feel confident about asking for help and believing they will be understood; that services designed in response are fit for purpose and meet the needs of those they seek to serve. It can be a tremendous step for a parent to finally acknowledge the violence being committed within their own family. What may seem obvious to those outside, can still be passed off as “normal” teenage behaviour, or as something that is somehow deserved, by those on the receiving end. Shame, stigma, and ignorance all contribute to parents not identifying their situation to themselves or others.

As the conversation gets louder, and more people start to identify what they experience themselves as CPV we need to be sure we have got it right for them, right from the start.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Discussion

Parent Abuse: Gender issues in group work

Not a very snappy headline I’ll grant you but the alternative was too cheesey – “Keeping gender on the agenda”. Yeah, I know…..

While there are a small number of studies that have found little difference between the violence and abuse from young women and young men towards their parents, the general accumulation of research seems to point otherwise, and it is likely that this discrepancy can be accounted for by the type of survey, the type of data examined, the particular expression of violence or abuse, or the ages of the young people involved. Eddie Gallagher has a chapter on gender in his commentary on the literature regarding child to parent violence, and he confirms the experience of those involved in clinical practice or the legal world, as well as recent research in Oxford and Brighton, that boys are three or four more times as likely to be involved in CPV than are girls. This difference is most markedly shown as the age increases, and the level of violence worsens. This is not to deny that many girls and young women are extremely violent and abusive towards their parents; and Gallagher also suggests that their levels of violence may be increasing. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Discussion

Adolescent violence in the home: How is it different to adult family violence?

This article was originally published on the Australian Government website: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Child and Family Community Australia on December 8th 2015.

Jo Howard describes the issue of adolescent violence in the home, and how it differs to adult family violence.

Adolescent violence in the home has many similarities to family violence, but there are some key differences.

Adolescents who abuse their parents use similar strategies to violent men to gain control and power. They often coerce, threaten and intimidate, destroy property and possessions and physically assault their parents. Global research indicates most victims are mothers and most offenders are males – a gendered presentation similar to adult family violence (Howard 2011). However, female adolescents are also offenders and fathers and other family relatives may be victims. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Discussion

Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: book review

With many papers and now two books to her name, Amanda Holt is a leading voice in the field of adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA), not just in the UK, but also around the world. APVA is a small but developing field, where networking provides a key method of information exchange, and it was through discussions with other academics and practitioners that the idea for this book was born. Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: Approaches and contexts for intervention explores both the different theoretical bases and approaches to the work, and the very different contexts in which it takes place. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Book review

Child to parent violence, nothing new under the sun

An article from the Independent newspaper from 1995 was brought to my attention by a tweet from Amanda Holt. The piece, “He’s my son. I love him. But he beats me up“, demonstrates that CPV is far from a new phenomenon, that even 20 years ago there was evidence of children as young as 8 years old involved – and that the connection with intimate partner violence for many families was recognised. In fact it brings together neatly the impact on daily lives as families try to avoid anyone knowing what is going on, the humiliation of having to ask for help, and each woman’s belief that she is the only one involved because of the secrecy around the issue.

Thankfully there is now help available at any earlier stage – but parents may still struggle to find the understanding and support they need close to home.

I believe the legislation mentioned here, the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill, was enacted in Northern Ireland, but not in England and Wales.

2 Comments

Filed under Discussion

Child to Parent Abuse: some new resources for professionals

As a comprehensive introduction to child to parent abuse, and guidance for professionals, a booklet from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum and Safer North Hampshire is very a very welcome addition to the shelves. Child to Parent Abuse Booklet June 2014-2 Published in June 2014, it popped up through a google alert just this week. The booklet is downloadable from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum website, (information booklet for practitioners about child to parent abuse). Further resources will shortly be available in the form of an eagerly awaited new book, edited by Amanda Holt: Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents.  The book offers information about both well-established approaches and programmes, including theoretical frameworks and toolkits; and examples of innovative practice.

1 Comment

Filed under publications

Adolescent to parent abuse as a form of DV?

Two recent things of interest from Amanda Holt:

A journal article looking at similarities and differences between adolescent to parent and intimate partner violence; and a seminar addressing this issue at Oxford Brookes University last month. You can hear Amanda and see the slides from this presentation here.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under publications