Tag Archives: AVA

Familial IDVAs

IDVAs (Independent domestic violence advisors) are front line practitioners with specialist training in delivering practical and emotional support to victims of domestic abuse, and their children. While the vast majority of clients will have experienced violence and abuse from a partner or ex-partner, a small percentage of the work involves what is termed “familial violence”, and I was pleased to be able to speak with 2 Familial IDVAs recently to hear more about what they are able to offer.

Patience and Susie are based in the Stronger Communities Directorate for Southampton. Theirs is an ‘adult service’ and so they support a range of individuals where there has been what they term COPA (child on parent abuse), POCA (parent on child abuse), sibling abuse, or abuse to grandparents, as well as honour-based abuse; all where the perpetrator is over 16 years of age. Those using harmful behaviour are mostly male, and a mix of adolescents and men in their 30s and 40s, with the vast majority of the work involving abuse from men to their mothers. There is often a link with intimate partner violence, in that the perpetrators ‘ping-pong’ between the homes of their partner and their parent. They work with an average of 75 – 100 high risk cases a year referred through the MASH (multi-agency safeguarding hub), using tools from their IDVA training, and from specialist adolescent to parent violence (APV) training, in their case provided by AVA.

While some of the skills are transferable, there are very different dynamics with APV and so it is important to have this broader understanding and perspective. 

Familial IDVA work is short term – around 4 months though sometimes longer – and involves the offer of emotional support, risk assessment and safety planning, and then referral on to a more appropriate service. It is notable that issues of love and guilt are frequent themes which come up in the emotional support work, and the victim will often be concerned to find help for their child and to enable them to remain safe together. The work is solely with the adult victim, but ideally they would work in conjunction with others offering a service to the perpetrator, and there is frustration that this is not always possible or available. If the adult victim is not identified as vulnerable in their own right, or the young person is similarly not considered vulnerable, then it can be difficult to access support from Children’s or Adults’ Social Care for instance.

Despite these frustrations however, both Patience and Susie reported tangible benefits which are experienced by those they support. For many, them “just being there” no matter what, being non-judgemental, and listening helps victims to keep going, to remain safe, and to develop greater self-confidence. They recognise the privilege of being allowed into people’s lives and are keen to emphasise the importance of viewing the victims as the experts in their situation – rather than rushing in with ideas and suggestions. So they seek to help their clients find their own solutions, reflecting on what has already been tried, rather than suggesting lots of new things themselves. 

Is this a role that could be rolled out more widely?

It is often said that our understanding of children’s violence towards their parents lags a long way behind that of intimate partner abuse, and yet we have seen a tremendous increase in interest and awareness over the last 10 – 15 years. Many things work together to discourage those experiencing CPV from coming forward for help – the stigma, lack of awareness, poor resource provision, but the situation is improving and we will undoubtedly see a rise in the demand for help. In an ideal world we would see a range of services to meet the needs of many different family configurations and situations, with expertise spread evenly around the country and throughout different sectors. In the meantime, it is encouraging to see a growing and widening appreciation of the pain and harm caused through CPV, and an increasing group of practitioners trained to provide a service within their field of work.    

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The Care Act 2014: how can it support individuals experiencing child to parent violence?

Yesterday I attended a seminar organised by AVA, considering the interface between the Care Act 2014 and domestic violence, and what could be learnt about support for vulnerable victims of abuse: “The Care Act six months on …early lessons to keep vulnerable adults safe from domestic and sexual abuse.” As always with these things I had an interest in how this would apply in situations of child to parent violence, but there was a nice overlap too with my “proper job” in that some of the social work students I support and assess might be working within this legislation. Continue reading

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The Map Goes Live!

For several years I have been living with the hope that it would be possible to map all the specialist provision around the country for families experiencing violence and abuse from their children. I suppose initially my reasoning was all a bit vague: I suspected there was more work going on than we knew about, but I rather hoped that it would be a way of connecting people and also make my life easier when people contacted me (as they did me and others on a regular basis) asking for help in knowing where to turn.

Over the course of the two years it’s taken to reach this point, the rationale has become more formalised, and a fantastic steering group has supported the work as it transformed into a “proper project” with money and everything. I am now 5 months in to what was originally envisaged as 6 months worth of work. The reality is that it will carry on for a few more months in order to chase up the remaining projects we know about and complete final reports, but the time has come to launch the map. If not now, when!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 12.34.40

(screenshot only, see below to access the map)

The software package used at the moment, Community 21, is part of a separate project within Brighton University (CUPP). Using the map you will be able to locate a specialist service by area, or name; and to learn about the model of work offered, methods of referral and any evaluation that as taken place. You will see if anyone can refer or whether it is a service offered internally; any age criteria, and whether the project works with young people only, parents only or both.

So what is it for?

Well, this is the current thinking:

  • The map will help families and practitioners looking for a service in their area.
  • The map will enable agencies to network, whether in the development or coordination of services.
  • The map will enable agencies and practitioners to locate projects which can offer training.
  • The map will enable commissioners to understand the gaps in provision and to look at the development of services strategically.
  • Other interested parties will have a fuller picture of what is going on.

What it won’t do:

  • There is as yet no method of assessing standards of work or quality assurance. Those using the map should understand that it merely indicates the presence of a service and we cannot officially endorse any project.
  • We have not as yet figured a way of including services that are offered in a different way, for example telephone support from national agencies.
  • It does not yet include individual practitioners / counselors offering a service to families.
  • It isn’t 100% comprehensive. At the moment it only covers England and Wales. I know there are services still not included!

How does it Work?

Simply follow this link to the page which shows our project. You will find “our map” and then some information about the project and the people involved. You can zoom in and out on the map to see different parts of England and Wales, and you can do some basic searches by the type and name of the service. Click on the different coloured ‘hexes’ to see a project in detail. The twitter feed @mapping_cpv is there too.

There is still some way to go. The next few months will be spent following up existing leads, and scoping new ones as always. Much of this work takes place through contacts passing on names of colleagues, so all contributions are very welcome. A big question remains as to how to keep the information up to date and relevant. This is particularly an issue when so many services face massive budget cuts or regular renewal of charitable funding.

But finally, we are interested in feedback. If you are able to take a moment to look at the map we would be pleased to hear any comments you have, especially:

  • Would it be useful to you?
  • In what way particularly?
  • Can you immediately identify any issues or changes we could make?
  • Can you suggest ways of building on what is already there?
  • Do you have a service that is not yet included?

I cannot end this without a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful Steering Group, which comprises: Dr. Paula Wilcox from University of Brighton, Jo Sharpen of AVA, Dunston Patterson from the YJB, and Julia Worms of Respect. Regular updates will continue as the project completes and reports become available.

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“The family unit is supposed to be a safe place”

Mapping support for parents

News at last about the mapping project I have been talking about for ages!

A group of interested people is now meeting regularly to try to get his moving. We aim to produce some sort of directory of all the services across the country supporting families experiencing child to parent violence, by the end of the year. It is not clear at this point what form this will take or who will be able to access it initially, but this is huge progress. Between us we know of a considerable number of projects and services working with parent abuse across the country, but no doubt there are many we are missing. It would be great to make this as comprehensive as possible. If you know of services in your area, or indeed elsewhere, please do email me via the Contact page. Thanks. Continue reading

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From witness to perpetrator: is it inevitable?

The recent Respect National Practitioners Seminar, held in London, featured a keynote speech from Professor David Gadd, of the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice at Manchester University. David reported on the findings of the three-year ESRC From Boys to Men project, in his speech: The Making and Unmaking of Domestic Abuse Perpetrators.

Essentially, the research has been examining why some young men go on to become domestic abuse perpetrators and others not; and then what can be done about it. Work such as this is incredibly important in a field such as parent abuse, where a significant amount is known about correlation, but less about causation. Continue reading

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Changing the DV definition: the debate continues

My attention was drawn this week to the recently released Home Office Guidance, Information for Local Areas on the change to the definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Produced in partnership with AVA, the guidance contains a whole section on Child to Parent Violence and calls specifically for the support of local groups working with families experiencing parent abuse, and the training of domestic violence workers in their work with this form of family violence.

At the same time, I received some comments from Anne-Marie Harris, Senior Development Adviser for Effective Practice with the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, addressing the extension of the definition and drawing attention again to the need to exercise caution in the way these developments are carried forward. These are reproduced here and are particularly pertinent in the light of the guidance issued. Continue reading

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“An alignment of the planets”

Returning to the topic of themes that emerged from the recent conference on domestic violence by children against parents, in Nottingham, I’d like to look at 2 more ideas that caught my attention.

Launching the conference, Jo Sharpen, from AVA,  described it as very timely, and indeed, throughout the day, speakers referred to a series of events that support our focus on the issue of child to parent violence at this time. The changed definition of domestic violence in England and Wales (with the publication of the Home Office Guidance to which AVA contributed), was highlighted and declared helpful in recognising that under 18s could be abusive, though bringing parent abuse within the domestic violence umbrella was also considered problematic, because of the important differences between CPV and IPV and the potential criminalisation of young people (see my earlier post for more details). March also saw the publication of the UK Government Action Plan: A call to end violence against women and girls, and the launch of the EVAWGUK policy. Though parent abuse is sadly still not specifically mentioned, it does offer opportunities to discuss the issue more widely. Continue reading

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Domestic abuse by children against parents conference, March 14th

What a fantastic day yesterday was! I’m still buzzing and full of ideas on how to take things forward. It was a great opportunity to meet up with over 100 practitioners, mostly from the north of England, as well as an amazing line-up of speakers. Thanks to Central Conference Consultants Ltd for their superb organisation! Continue reading

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Job done?

So the last few weeks have been pretty hectic following the announcement on February 26th, of the grant awarded to the University of Brighton for research into child to parent violence. The significant media interest in the issue of child to parent violence mirrors what was seen in Melbourne, following the announcement there of the development of the Keeping Families Safe project. It seems likely that there will be further coverage in national papers, local radio, women’s magazines and perhaps even television in the near future. With the conference coming up in Nottingham this week, which will include a presentation of interim findings from the work being undertaken at Oxford University by Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles, it is an exciting time to be involved in the raising of awareness or indeed in the implementation of work with families experiencing this type of abuse. Continue reading

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Child to Parent Violence Webinar

Parenting UK, part of the charity, Family Lives, holds regular events to support practitioners, including, recently, a webinar on the subject of Child to Parent Violence, presented by Oliver Standing, Policy and Projects Co-ordinator from  Adfam, and Sara Hassell, a Family Co-ordinator with Family Lives. Oliver was talking about a recent research project. Sara was addressing work she does in a primary school and the tools she uses working to support abused parents. The organisers have made a video of the presentation available to all interested parties (which lasts just under an hour and three quarters), and also links to documents mentioned and to supplementary material. Continue reading

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