Tag Archives: domestic violence

VAWG Strategy: Lack of Progress update for CPV

The Home Office published its latest VAWG Strategy papers this week, with the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls 2016 – 2020 Strategy Refresh, and the Ending Violence against Women and Girls Action Plan 2016 – 2020 Progress Update. Once again, I was disappointed to see that there was no mention of children’s and adolescent’s violence and abuse towards their parents, though not entirely surprised since it is has not featured as a specific issue since 2014, and only one line mention in 2016. The irony is that, at a local level, many areas are now developing their own strategic response; but by omitting this aspect of violence and abuse from central government documents – and thinking – it remains invisible, unconsidered, and unimaginable for too many people.

You may have heard me argue that we should not necessarily be conceptualising CPVA or APVA as domestic violence anyway, so why am I so peeved? Well of course, the VAWG strategy is not exclusively concerned with what we typically think of as domestic abuse, including also issues such as FGM and honour based violence, sexual violence, and stalking, as well as teenage relationship abuse. There seem to be a lot of similarities in the way parents experience violence and abuse from partners – and from their children; and there are strong links to the experience of previous abuse in the home, and the later expression of violence by the young person. But we now hear from families where their experience is very different, and they seriously struggle with the notion – and labelling – of their children as DA perpetrators: where there are learning difficulties for instance, or where there has been past experience of severe trauma in the child’s life. The more we learn from families, the more we see that there is no one clear profile, no one distinct causal link, and we see that the response that each family requires must be tailored to their specific needs. Nevertheless, by omitting CPVA and APVA from the VAWG strategy, an opportunity is lost to remind commissioners, and practitioners, that this is ‘a thing’, that in some ways it can be understood as an aspect of DA, that the gendered nature of it adds to the abuse that women and girls experience in other ways, and that this remains an under-recognised and under-tackled problem for significant numbers of families.

Many of the Action Points could impact positively on the recognition and response to CPVA. Relationships education in schools, work with gangs, the supporting of whole family approaches to DA work, work within health and housing encouraging practitioners to ask and respond appropriately, partnership working across agencies,  developing better data sets – these are all elements of work that are needed to underpin the recognition, response and resolution of violence and abuse from children to parents. But while Government continues to fail to name the problem, it is too easy for the issue to remain hidden, unrecognised, brushed over. You may feel that you want to take this up and lobby for it to be recognised at higher levels. I plan to publish some suggestions and guidance for this in the next month.

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Domestic violence isn’t always between adult partners

If you’ve not come across child to parent violence before; if you don’t know anyone affected; it’s easy to misread the signs. Sadly, we have come to accept that adults can experience intimate partner violence. Folk may not all fully understand what is going on and why, but they get that it happens. So when you hear shouting and screaming noises through the wall from the neighbours, or when you see bruises, it would be natural to draw that conclusion.

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The use of NVR in residential care.

As I was reminded recently while reading a report about the use of residential care for adolescents on the edge of care, we have a rather different model of residential provision in Britain to that in other European countries, where a placement in a therapeutic establishment with highly trained and qualified staff may be the norm rather than the exception for a young person unable to stay at home. Lesser professional qualifications required, residential care as last resort – the sector in Britain has suffered from a period of neglect itself, despite the fact that some of the most troubled young people will be placed in such homes, whether for lack of alternative or as a positive choice. It is sadly to be expected that staff in residential homes will experience levels of abuse and violence from children and teenagers struggling to come to terms with trauma in similar ways to families coping in the community, perhaps to an even greater extent, yet this receives less coverage still. Continue reading

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Child to parent violence: the new topic for discussion at parties!

If you are engaged in work that is looking vulnerable to belt tightening and budget cuts it may not seem as if the situation on the ground is improving as we embark on a new year. Indeed, the notion of a “new year” can seem pretty artificial if your timescales are built around tax years or funding applications. Nevertheless, for me at least, the end of one year and the start of the new meant parties and that proved an interesting experience in a way I never would have predicted in the past.

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With the rich mix of a relationship storyline in The Archers that has been looking like coercive control since day one, and a storyline about child to parent violence in Coronation Street, it is suddenly OK to talk about domestic violence at parties! So I had the rather surreal experience of sitting with glass in hand talking about Helen’s relationship with Rob as if it was real (which of course it is if you’re an Archers fan), followed by listening to two groups of friends discussing their own experiences of abuse from pre-teen children and steps they were taking to address the issue. Perhaps it’s the parties I go to, and I’ll grant you it doesn’t sound very exciting! You have to picture the decorations, the food, imagine the music; these were conversations in little huddles competing with the noise. But the fact that they were happening was a moving experience and one that must be in part due to the immense media coverage over the last year that has brought these two issues to greater public consciousness.

So I look forward to 2016 with brave new hopes and expectations: that the public consciousness of child to parent violence will continue to grow, that our understanding of the issues involved will be refined, and of course that the development of services to support families will continue to grow – and also, that it will become more and more OK to talk about it at parties.

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Domestic Abuse: Responding to the #WholeFamily

I was privileged to be asked to speak at the DVCN conference, organised by Standing Together, this Tuesday in London, opening up the issue of child to parent violence to an audience very familiar with the issue itself, but not necessarily aware of the range of circumstances in which children and young people might exhibit abusive behaviour, or the types of help available. It felt particularly apt to be talking about the Mapping Project, when an analysis of the findings so far has shown that domestic abuse agencies are the most likely to be offering support programmes to families. Indeed a number of the conference delegates were from agencies offering specialist work, or from parts of the country where work is already established. This represents quite a movement from a previous focus on adult perpetrators, which had the effect of making the issue of violence from children even more invisible. Continue reading

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Where are the specialist services?

Readers of this blog will be familiar with my dream of mapping specialist services around the country for those experiencing child to parent violence (here). With a small amount of funding secured this undertaking finally began for real in May of this year, working half a day a week. What is being found is telling in a number of ways.

  • As expected there is little specialist provision over all.
  • Discovering services that are new to me has been difficult. How much more difficult must it be for parents?
  • Working out who to approach. In some areas a service is run by a domestic violence organisation, in others through youth offending and some are independent. A single point of contact for referrals / requests is thus absolutely essential.
  • Sometimes services are not open to all families. For example, some are only for young people already engaged with the youth offending team.
  • Practitioners in local services may not always be familiar with services other organisations are running.
  • There is a lot of adaptation of tried and tested programmes to fit local situations (or perhaps the skill set or inclination of the practitioners?)
  • Funding issues – there is sometimes a degree of uncertainty as to how long the programme will continue.

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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.

 

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