Tag Archives: Beyond the Adoption Order

CPV: Everyone knows someone affected (probably)

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a colleague about our separate work around child to parent violence (CPV). As we rounded things up, a third person, who had been listening in, asked if they might make a comment. They told of a friend’s difficulties with their child, and commented that they had not thought about it in these terms before. I wasn’t surprised. Almost without fail, when I talk about my interest and work, whether at a conference, a party, to someone I know or a complete stranger, someone will seek me out later – ask for my contact details, request a private conversation, or perhaps share their own experience there and then. Barbara Cottrell first recorded this same experience in her book, When Teens Abuse their Parents. I have heard of similar experiences when a media outlet has covered this or another aspect of family violence. Suddenly there is much to-ing and fro-ing in the corridors, as reporters or other staff find someone safe to disclose their concerns to.

But more than this. I have been at gatherings where I have looked round and easily identified 10% of the group who have already confided in me. Yet the other 90% of people there may not be aware of the difficulties they face, for all manner of reasons. We know there are many things that cause parents to hold back  The overwhelming shame of their experience may mean that they feel unable to broach the issue even with a best friend. The minimising as it becomes the norm may mean that families do not recognise their experience as abusive. They may fear the opprobrium of others, or a backlash from their child. They may believe there is nothing anyone can do anyway.

We still don’t have a definitive idea of the prevalence of child to parent violence and abuse. The figure of 10% is one which is regularly offered. It comes from a number of places, dating back to the early ‘counting’ in the US. Various research studies have suggested that it offers the best figure we have. Some (eg Gallagher) have questioned whether 10% is too high, including too broad a definition. Others (Routt and Anderson) suggest that the figures we have represent only the tip of the iceberg and so the likely number is much higher. Certainly, within some vulnerable group (such as adopters) the incidence has been suggested to be much greater.

All of which leads me to the conclusions that 1) the experience of violence and abuse from a child to parent is  more widespread than we realise, and 2) most people know someone experiencing CPV even if they are not aware of it. There are many people working to make this part of every day conversation. It is incumbent upon us to create an environment where people feel safe to come forward; where they can be assured of an understanding and empathetic ear; and where timely and proper support is available.

 

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Adoption and Fostering Podcast, child to parent violence

I was privileged last week to have a conversation about child to parent violence (CPV) with Al Coates, adoptive parent, social worker and adoption expert, as part of his series of podcasts on the website Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad. Al has kindly allowed me to reblog the podcast here, but please do go over to his website and check out the other posts and interviews. The full version of his post can be found here. Al gives a thoughtful, informed and sometimes rawly honest account of fostering from both sides of the fence.

CPV is a big issue for many adopters (see the report : Beyond the Adoption Order), and it has been interesting to watch over the last couple of years as parents have gradually felt more at ease in discussing their experiences on line. It is important that these conversations continue in order to support one another, but crucially also so that other people hear the extent of the struggle, fear, anguish and exhaustion; and start to develop proper resources.

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A story of knives and cuts – with a little bit of hope at the end.

What is it with knives? (I’m sure someone will answer that for us!) So many parents report the use of knives in the abuse they face from their children. I clearly remember a conversation with Julie Selwyn after publication of Beyond the Adoption Order, about the frequency that they had been mentioned in conversations with parents about their adoption journey. And I remember the horror in a friend’s voice as they described their early experience of fostering – which also marked the end of that venture for them. When people talk about being at “the sharp end” of a child’s anger, frustration and pain, this is too often what we are talking about. Continue reading

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The Adoption Social: Listening to and supporting each other

One of the particular groups of people I follow on twitter has been the adoption community. Early on in my exploration of children’s violence to parents, and more especially after publication of the report Beyond the Adoption Order, I become aware that families living with children they had adopted were facing sometimes extreme levels of violence and that it often felt different to other forms of CPV. Often times it involved children as young as three or four, and could clearly be linked back to experiences of trauma: neglect, violence, abandonment, multiple placements, and the cutting of familial ties. These were children demonstrating anger, grief, frustration and most of all fear, and – as with all CPV – there was very little being offered in the way of support. A few tentative steps are now being taken in developing therapies and support packages for families, but one of the key things that has enabled people to keep caring, to keep going at all, has been the friendships, advice and care forged online. Continue reading

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Support for adoptive families experiencing violence and abuse from children

The publication last April of the research report: Beyond the Adoption Order highlighted the urgent need within the adoption community for support around the issue of children’s violence to parents, and so I have been interested to follow how this is developing at both the large scale organisational, and more intimate networking, levels. Many adoption agencies offer training around the issue, specifically in Non Violent Resistance (NVR) a theory and technique first developed for this group by Haim Omer. Continue reading

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Child to Parent Violence: The Adoption Issue

A couple of years ago I was asked to write something about child to parent violence with reference to adoptive families. For a variety of reasons I wrote something with an entirely different focus, and in retrospect I’m glad I did. I had met and interviewed an adoptive mother as part of my Masters research but, while acknowledging that an adopted child might bring issues from their early life to a new family, I had no real understanding at that time of early trauma and its effect on attachment and behaviour. Continue reading

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