Posts tagged ‘Domestic abuse’

August 14, 2014

Coercive Control – how should MARACs respond?

Last month we held our regular national MARAC Scrutiny Panel where we examined a number of anonymised cases which involved high levels of coercive control and risk.  Tomorrow we will publish on our website (and I am sure on Twitter as well) the guidance that we prepared together with all the experts who attended the Panel.  There is advice for IDVAs, MARAC chairs and partner agencies both before and at the MARAC.

Coercive control may be part of the vast majority of cases that IDVAs and other DV specialists deal with (it is called the Power and Control Wheel after all), but it is not so obvious to other agencies who might deal with cases on an incident based approach rather than looking at patterns of behaviour.  Equally, the impact of growing up in a climate of coercion and fear is sometimes missed by those focusing on the adult victim of abuse (Marianne Hester’s planets sneak in again…).

Our briefing seeks to address this in just 2 pages.  Ok, the font is very small….

Go to our website tomorrow to download it.  As ever, all feedback welcome – we really want every MARAC in the country to use it.  Any questions, please ask your MARAC Development Officer.  To remind yourself who they are go to: http://www.caada.org.uk/marac/Regional_support_for_MARACs.html 

March 1, 2014

Thoughts from Michael Johnson’s work – Practical Implications

We had a terrific keynote speech from Professor Mike Johnson at our National Conference on Wednesday.  He explained his work around typologies of relationship in domestic abuse.  He highlighted three main types (see http://www.caada.org.uk/events/CAADA_conference_2014.htm for more info) – Intimate Partner Terrorism where one partner – usually a man in heterosexual relationships – ‘terrorises’ the other, Situational Couple Violence where there is typically an equal split between male and female victims and perpetrators (although not necessarily in terms of impact) and finally ‘Violent Resistance’, where the partner of an ‘intimate terrorist’ will try and defend themselves in a violent way.  The first category is much smaller in number than the second, but with a much higher percentage of high risk cases because of the persistent existence of coercive control.  The second is by far the largest in terms of number of cases but most of these never come to the attention of public or specialist agencies such as police, IDVAs, refuges etc because the level of severity is typically much lower – although a significant percentage (about a quarter) do involve severe violence albeit without coercion and control.  The last category is very small.

So what are the implications of his research?  Firstly, it gives us a clear way to unlock the prevalence debate around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men.  Both figures are right.  But the bulk of the violence where men are victims fits into the Situational Couple Violence category and we need to treat it in a different way.  In Situational Couple Violence, Mike’s research shows that about one third of cases involve men being violent to women, one third involve women being violent to men and one third are bi-directional.  Most do not involve patterns of violence and none involve coercion.  These are typically arguments and conflict that get out of control and where there is a violent incident.  In many cases this is a one off.  This is borne out by the crime survey for England and Wales which shows that about a third (I quote from memory) of cases are resolved in a month.  This is not the sort of coercion, violence and control that we see in our work.

Secondly, it has clear implications for the family courts in particular in relation to children.  Mike describes the impact of Intimate Partner Terrorism as the ‘poison’ that infects a family and leaves children exposed to constant stress.  You will all be familiar with the literature about the impact of this on the neurological development of small children.  The courts and those arranging contact between children and their parents need to get real clarity around this.

Thirdly, at a time when the police and others are reviewing the use of risk assessment, does this have a message for front line officers?  My sense is no.  There is a level of sophistication in distinguishing between different types of relationship which probably won’t be done most effectively at 3 in the morning. Front line officers need to collect evidence, safeguard the parties involved in an incident and manage the immediate risk that they are faced with.

Does it have implications for the work of specialists in the field?  My sense is yes.  At its most basic, many people in our field still speak about high risk as if it didn’t include coercion and control.  I feel as if there can’t be anyone left who doesn’t understand that coercion is totally linked to risk – as well of course as significant physical violence.  However, apparently there are!  When I listen to people saying: “Half of the homicide reviews were of standard risk cases” I do want to say that they really were NOT!  But they might have been hidden to public agencies or we didn’t spot the coercion and control because there was little or no physical violence disclosed, or because the person doing the risk assessment didn’t understand its significance.  I really would commend to practitioners the severity of abuse grid that we have put in the IDVA version of the DASH checklist (http://www.caada.org.uk/dvservices/RIC_and_severity_of_abuse_grid_and_IDVA_practice_guidance.pdf  see pages 8 and 9).  Look at the examples of coercion and control included under sexual abuse, stalking and harassment and jealous and controlling behaviour.  As an aside, we are in favour of streamlining the DASH tool for police – but anxious not to confuse the tool itself from the training and supervision required to implement ANY tool effectively.  College of Policing please note!!

More broadly, I think that the options we offer those in Intimate Partner Terrorism relationships are broadly appropriate.  However, we offer the same interventions to those experiencing Situational Couple Violence – and Mike argued very convincingly that the dynamics are not the same.  Our data show that only about 15% of victims supported by IDVA services do not disclose jealous and controlling behaviour – perhaps they are in  situational couple violence relationships? Mike’s research shows that a significant percentage of these do not want to split up – but this is broadly the only option we are offering them today.  I say this with great caution – BUT – if someone is genuinely in a Situational Couple Violence relationship, surely we should be looking at work with the couple and even anger management?  These are all interventions that are traditionally seen as unsafe where Intimate Partner Terrorism is involved.

Mike was very clear that our starting point must be to assume Intimate Partner Terrorism and safety plan as if this was the case.  However, his analysis does give us a few more options if, and only if, a real risk expert, with a capital ‘E’, establishes that this is not the case.

January 30, 2014

Scaling Good Ideas – The Family Nurse Partnership and Domestic Abuse

Following the research from the Early Intervention Foundation yesterday, with its recommendations regarding the Family Nurse Partnership as a means of intervening early in domestic abuse, I then received a blogpost from the wonderful Bridgespan series.  (http://www.bridgespan.org/Blogs/Transformative-Scale-Pathways-to-Greater-Impact/January-2014/Scale-That-Transforms-Society.aspx#.Uuq8sXmuL-A from @jeffbradach ) It highlights that even the FNP (or NFP as they call it in the US just so I can never remember which way around it is….) which is about the best evaluated model out there, only is available to 2% – yes 2% of people who are eligible for it.  They write:

“The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), launched in Denver in 1970, currently serves 26,000 low-income, first-time mothers in 43 states by partnering them with a registered nurse who provides ongoing home visits from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. The program has been shown to dramatically improve life outcomes for both the mother and child, and provides $5.70 in benefits to society for every dollar spent. Yet, even after successfully securing in 2010 a $1.5 billion federal funding stream that supports this type of work, NFP reaches less than 2 percent of the total number of mothers that qualify for its services, and all home visitation programs (which are of mixed quality) reach less than one in five of those that might benefit.”

How is that possible?

How much more evidence does one need?

January 29, 2014

The Early Intervention Foundation Review – Our First Thoughts – and a chance to discuss with the authors at our conference

The Early Intervention Foundation published its Domestic Violence and Abuse Review today with a number of interesting recommendations and some pretty strongly worded views – all based on really thorough research.  Early Intervention is such a crucial topic in our field and so we welcome their work very warmly.  It also referenced our Children’s Insights service which is gathering terrific data on the experience of domestic abuse for children (including a lot of direct feedback from children themselves) and the impact of the Children’s IDVA on their safety and well being.  

Anyway, there will be lots more information about the findings from Children’s Insights at our conference on the 26th February and the EIF are kindly leading a workshop to explore their findings in more detail.  (For more info about our conference go to http://www.caada.org.uk/events )

Thought 1: Thank you for being so blunt.  

In the opening section of the Recommendations (p 91), the authors write about domestic violence and abuse in the following terms: “Its scale is such that it is vital that concerted action is taken across a very wide range of agencies at national and local levels.” We can only agree.

Thought 2: Yes! Please do proper evaluation of new approaches.  

There is a clear call for new approaches to have robust evaluation whether this be in relation to perpetrator work, or the revised Family Nurse Partnership with the IPV (inter-personal violence) intervention. We are really interested in both – but especially drawn to the FNP + IPV (apart from the prospect of another acronym…) with the potential to work with both young parents and their child.  Having spent this morning looking at cases of domestic abuse involving teenagers aged 16 and 17, these sorts of interventions can’t come soon enough.

Thought 3: We welcome the challenge of working with the whole family.  

The report focuses on the need to include an awareness of DV within all support for families, couples and relationships.  As a sector, we often side-step the need to work with the whole family – leaving women and their children with little support if they decide to stay in a relationship.  If we can’t make this work – whether at an early intervention stage – or later on in an abusive relationship – we will be failing many women, men and children.  

Thought 4: The voluntary sector and grant making foundations have an important role to play.  

The report understandably focuses on the role of Government in leading change.  We would also highlight the potential for the charities in the field – both operational and funders – to do the same.  We are close to the experience of victims and children and perpetrators of domestic abuse and should use this to build on the evidence provided in the EIF report to lead the improvement in services.

Thought 5: We can overcome the barriers to professional confidence to act among Early Intervention practitioners.

I was very struck recently at a meeting where an Early Intervention practitioner stated: “we have the best training, and best procedures but no one has the confidence to act.”  The report confirms this, citing Brandon’s research on the implementation of the Common Assessment Framework and other interviews.  We firmly believe that training helps, procedures help but without a named and known person who you can refer on to, referrals won’t happen. Hence our focus on co-location of IDVAs in maternity and A&E wards, and now I hear in one or two places linked to schools.  This clear ‘care pathway’ is the difference between a sound response in theory and a sound response in practice.

November 9, 2013

Blog Posts….like buses, they come in pairs…please read this one!

I wrote in July about our first MARAC Scrutiny Panel, where we looked at how to improve our response to perpetrators at MARAC.  At the time I promised to flag when we produced our guidance on this.  Somehow this managed to slip off the list…but never too late.

We have produced a 2 page summary on MARAC and Perpetrators which you can access at  http://www.caada.org.uk/documents/Managing_Perpetrators.pdf

Obviously I am biassed, but I do think that this is really practical and really important.  Somewhere, in our desire to ensure that victims of abuse are supported at MARAC, we have sometimes lost sight of the importance of managing the perpetrators’ behaviour.  Without this we won’t be successful in safeguarding either the adult or children who are suffering the impacts of domestic abuse.  So if you are part of your local MARAC and there is one thing that you read this week, please make it this briefing.  And if this is not your area of responsibility, please highlight it to your local MARAC team – especially the Chair.  Thank you.

August 4, 2012

Can someone explain? £5 vs £0.30p a head…

I have a pile of papers marked ‘To Read at the Weekend’.  It doesn’t always get read.  I have been carrying around for a couple of weekends the press release from the Scottish Government about their funding for Violence Against Women and Girls.  They announced funding of £34.5m for the next 3 years – £11.5m a year or £5 per woman over the age of 16 in the population.  I looked again at the figures for funding for VAWG services in England and Wales….£7m a year or £0.30p a head.

When I started working on domestic abuse in 2003, it was because several people told me that it was ‘the biggest human problem that was the hardest to raise money for.’  It seems like not much has changed south of the border.

Can anyone explain?

June 10, 2012

Themis – Locating IDVAs in hospitals

We had our first meeting on Friday with the six organisations who are going to be the research sites for our hospital based IDVA evaluation.  They are the IDVA team in Addenbrookes (Cambridge), Advance, the IDVA team in Bristol Royal Infirmary (who sadly couldn’t attend), North Devon WA, Victim Support in Newcastle and Worth Services.  As is always the case with these meetings, it is just so refreshing to hear from the different IDVAs, their managers and clinical champions about their work.  And, as is always the case, I learnt a lot.

The things that struck me most were:

1. The incredible determination and commitment of those involved.  It is only a slight exaggeration to say that some IDVAs are close to camping on a chair in the corridor of A&E, waiting for their opportunity to integrate with the process.

2. What a difference it makes to have a clinical champion and someone to advocate for the approach with the management of the hospital so that it is quickly embedded and integrated.

3. How much training is needed for clinical staff – it sounded endless in order to cope with high levels of staff turnover and low levels of DV awareness. Also the inconsistencies between one trust where DV training is mandatory and its neighbour in the room where it is not.

4. How in every single case, just the presence of the IDVAs in the hospital makes such a difference in terms of numbers of disclosures, and how many of these victims are unknown to any other agency.  I haven’t doubted that this is a wise approach – but it is really reassuring to hear again how true it is and how complementary to existing services.

5. Finally, the need to make the case for this work to public health commissioners in particular is acute.  More work to do…..

June 1, 2012

Belated Congratulations to WRSAC for GlaxoSmithKline IMPACT award

I am probably the last to have heard, but just in case I felt it was worth celebrating the success of WRSAC (Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in Cornwall) in beating over 350 other contestants to win the GlaxoSmithKline IMPACT award for their pioneering work supporting women experiencing domestic and sexual abuse in hospitals.  Readers of this blog will know that we are really focusing on building support for victims of domestic abuse in a hospital setting so it is fantastic to see the recognition of WRSAC’s work in such a prestigious way. WRSAC has a hospital based IDVA service and has helped to introduce routine enquiry so that many more victims of domestic abuse are identified.  We are really proud to say that WRSAC is a Leading Lights accredited service.

Let’s hope that this prize brings more focus by health commissioners on the value of such services so that one day we will see them all across the country.  Congratulations to the pioneers in Cornwall!

May 23, 2012

“Let me not die before my time”

A powerful new report on the impact of domestic abuse, and violence against women in West Africa has just been published by the International Rescue Committee, called ‘Let me not die before my time’.  You can download it at http://www.rescue.org/sites/default/files/resource-file/IRC_Report_DomVioWAfrica.pdf  The report stresses how violence in the home increases in post conflict societies.  

To quote from the introduction: “Women speak of domestic violence as impacting every aspect of their lives over a period of time, keeping them afraid and isolated from their friends and family and dependent on men who abuse them. Women want programs that confront this multifaceted reality. They want to be healthy (both physically and emotionally), to be financially independent, to have supportive communities that speak out against violence, and to have options for securing their safety whether through the police, a traditional chief, or a local women’s group.”

It sounds like while local realities may be very different, the wishes and needs of women suffering violence and abuse are universal.  You could have written almost exactly the same for women living in this country.

 

May 13, 2012

It’s time a defendant’s right to freedom was superseded by the victim’s right to safety”

I spent a few days in the North West last week and was lucky to have dinner with Penny and John Clough, parents of Jane Clough who was murdered by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass in 2010.  The title of this post comes from her father’s words – spoken after the House of Lords debate on their proposed change to the bail laws.  Last week’s Queen’s Speech brought closure to one part of their campaign – to give the prosecution the right to appeal bail decisions to the High Court in Crown Court cases.  Some of you will have heard them speak and I am sure will share my respect at their courage and dignity in striving to make things better for other women who might find themselves in Jane’s position in future.  If there was ever any doubt why we do our work, dinners like this remove it.  This is a potentially important change to the law and so all IDVA’s should be aware of it.

Their achievement has been quite extraordinary – to campaign for a change in the bail laws and see it get onto the statute books within 2 years of the death of their daughter reflects both the need for the change, and their extraordinary courage and determination in not taking no for an answer.  They are an inspiring couple.

After Jane’s death, they found her diary which predicted what would happen if Vass was released on bail.  She explains very eloquently her thoughts and you can watch them reading from Jane’s diary at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11709694

You can follow their campaign at http://www.justiceforjane.co.uk

I have included below an excerpt from the ObiterJ blog (www.obiterj.blogspot.com ) which gives the technical details of the changes.  They are one of the few good things in the Legal Aid Act (LASPO).

Chapter 2 – Bail – comprises section 90 which will bring into force Schedule 11.  This brings about various amendments to legislation dealing with bail.  The result is that the Bail Act 1976 becomes even more convoluted than it already is.  Surely, it is time for a new Act addressing bail.  A fresh start so-to-speak ! 

It was the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993 which introduced prosecution appeals (to the Crown Court) against grants of bail (by Magistrates’ Courts) to defendants.  The 1993 Act will be amended so that where a judge of the Crown Court grants bail to a person who is charged with, or convicted of, an offence punishable by imprisonment, the prosecution may appeal to the High Court against the granting of bail.  However,  an appeal may not be made where a judge of the Crown Court has granted bail on an appeal.

As originally enacted, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 section 25 prevented courts granting bail at all for defendants charged with or convicted of homicide or rape after previous conviction for such offences.  However, the original enactment was not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and the section was amended so as to permit courts to grant bail where the court “is satisfied” that there are exceptional circumstances.  A further amendment – in LASPO Schedule 11 – will replace the words “is satisfied” with “is of the opinion.”  The new wording is preferable but will perhaps make little practical difference.