Moving from planet to planet

On our new CPD course which looks at safeguarding children living with DV, we talk about the ‘3 planets’ theory developed by Professor Marianne Hester.  This theory highlights how differently a single family is regarded on the domestic violence planet (victim is central, perpetrator is held responsible for their actions, children are not very visible), the child protection planet (victim often held responsible, perpetrator is often invisible and children are central) and the child contact planet (victim and perpetrator are treated equally, children are central).  We spend most of our lives on the domestic abuse ‘planet’ and can often be heard to say that those who ‘live’ on the other planets, just ‘don’t understand’.

One of the things that has been revealing on this training, has been how valuable it is to start to understand how the planets interpret the same situations, and why they see things differently.  We have just been assessing the work of the last course and one comment really struck us.  The practitioner concerned highlighted the following:

The course ‘gave me a chance to focus on quality of my referrals to children’s social care concentrating on the effects of the abuse on the children. This was a steep learning curve as previously I had been so centred on the ‘domestic abuse planet’ (Hester, 2004) my referrals prior to this process tended to forget that the idea was to focus on safeguarding the children, but instead was more generalised about the whole situation.

Completing the work around referrals has provided me with the confidence to challenge children’s social care about rejected referrals but also has given me the knowledge to look back at my referrals and amend and re-refer, resulting in some cases being opened by children’s social care, purely due to me providing more accurate and child focused information.

For so long we have read the serious case reviews that highlight the ‘professional optimism’ of practitioners working with the adult, and our research Safety in Numbers again showed that over 25% of children living with domestic abuse experienced direct threats of harm – 11% with direct threats to kill.  Feedback like that above gives us hope that this might show a way to narrow this gap.

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