Batterer Accountability
Module Five
Johnna L. Pike, JD
Doctoral Student
School of Sociology
School of Law
University at Buffalo
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Battered Parent with Children
A battered parent continuously makes assessments
of how best to protect herself and her children.
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Most want the violence to stop but not all want to end
the relationship.
= If a battered parent does decide to separate from her
batterer, she faces many obstacles and risks
= Ending the relationship is generally a process of
several separations and failed reconciliations.
= Research suggests efforts to end violence greatest
when child abuse is present.
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© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Suggested Guiding Philosophy
for Cases with IPV
Disfavor removing a child from the custody of the IPV
victim to avoid further trauma
= Screen for the existence of IPV in the home
= Investigate and assess the nature and extent of IPV
= Hold the Batterer Accountable
= Make protection of IPV victim and children a priority
= Service planning for both child and battered parent to
foster trust and to encourage cooperation
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© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
How is Child Safety achieved
through Batterer Accountability?
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Holding a batterer accountable provides some
certainty of protection for a child from further
exposure to IPV because:
=child
will no longer be exposed to batterer or...
=batterer will stop his violence.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
How should batterer accountability
be determined?
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In child welfare cases, it requires asking two
questions:
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we holding the batterer responsible for the
outcomes caused by the violence?
=By holding the batterer accountable, are we ensuring
the children's safety?
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A positive response to both questions will help
shift the focus away from the battered parent.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Establishing Batterer
Accountability
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The legal system provides several avenues for
holding batterers accountable for their violent
behavior:
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Child Welfare System
Criminal Justice System
Domestic Relations System
Specialized Courts
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Batterer Accountability in the Child
Welfare System
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Opportunities for holding batterers accountable:
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Investigations and the substantiation of child abuse or
neglect
Adjudication of child abuse or neglect
Service planning following adjudication
Termination of parental rights proceedings
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Investigation
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Approach batterer cautiously
Obtain the batterer's account of the incident
Listen critically, batterers often minimize, deny or
justify behavior or blame the victim
Determine risk level
Document concisely
Hold batterer accountable by substantiating the
allegations against the batterer.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Service Planning For
The Batterer
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Tie plan to batterer's acknowledgment of his
responsibility for the harm done and the risk it
posed to the child(ren).
Remove continued risks posed by the batterer:
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Court ordered programs to reduce violence
Orders of protection limiting or suspending contact
Supervised visitation and exchange
Court can hold review hearings every six
months to ensure batterer compliance.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Service Planning for
the Battered Parent
• Individualize plan that avoids making her responsible
for preventing batterer's violence
• Assist with safety plan
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Build on established protective factors.
Consider safety of both victim and her children
• Make effective referrals (i.e. to IPV advocate)
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Avoid programs requiring cooperative participation.
• Recognize victim's strategies may conflict with service
plan and thus it may require review and modification.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Service Planning for Children
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Permit non-offending parent to be pro-active in
the service planning of her children
Provide supportive services
Provide access to a continuum of specialized
services for children exposed to IPV
Support bond with non-offending parent
Safety Planning in order to eliminate or manage
an immediate or impending safety threat.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Safety Planning for Children and
Battered Mothers
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Goals of safety planning should include:
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teach children safety skills and critical thinking
assist mother in protecting her child(ren)
build an empowering relationship between the mother
and the child(ren)
develop for the child's cognitive and moral capabilities
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Questions to ask Regarding
Children's Safety Planning
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What is the age-appropriate safety planning?
To what extent should children participate in the process?
How is a learning environment created for children that
does not foster false promises of safety, exacerbate the
fears of children or facilitate father's retaliation?
Is safety planning more hazardous than helpful?
Is safety planning more time-consuming than productive?
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Elements to Children's
Safety Plans
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Visitation arrangements should be specific to
protecting child and mother against anticipated
dangers.
Rehearse safety plan with children.
Plan must address torn loyalties, sense of betrayal,
and issues of self-blame.
Teach children to enlist emergency assistance
Teach children potential escape routes
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Risks of Safety Planning
with Children
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Fear will escalate beyond reality of danger
Child will believe s/he can stop the abuse
Child will feel at fault if the safety plan fails
Mother who engages in safety planning potentially will
be viewed by the court as an unfriendly parent.
Child will become angry or disillusioned if court or
others do not protect mothers despite safety plan.
No amount of planning can be successful if the offender
has continued access to the family
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Termination of Parental Rights
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Terminating batterer's parental rights is the
ultimate batterer accountability tool
TPR forces batterers to accept that as a result of
their violent behavior they are no longer entitled
to parent their children.
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Batterer Accountability in the
Criminal System
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Notice to batterer that they are being held
responsible for their behavior and provides a
means to shield child from further exposure.
Batterers can be prosecuted for the events that
brought the family to the attention of Child
Protection Services as well as for other older
incidents
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Conditions that Could be Imposed
on Batterer
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preclude contact
removal from home
compliance with CPS conditions and service plan
counseling specific to the child's needs
a showing that batter no longer poses a danger
probation which can be monitored through cooperative
relationship with probation officer
imprisonment
prosecution for violations of court issued orders
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Unrelated Boyfriends
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Present a difficult problem for CPS:
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May not feel mandate extends to these men even if
their violence was reason for initial intervention
If boyfriend cares for child(ren) then services should
be extended to him
If boyfriend does not care then...
=battered mother will require services and support
=CPS will likely have to use criminal system to
separate batterer from child(ren)
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Facilitating Victim's Participation
in Justice System
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Know and understand victims' rights in order to
accurately inform them.
Provide information about the legal process and make
appropriate referrals for advocacy assistance.
Follow-up with victims:
=gather
further information
=identify risks of batterer retaliation
=offer clarification
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Allow victim input in the process and potential remedies
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Domestic Relations Law
and Batterer Accountability
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Civil Order of Protection Proceedings:
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Can assist battered parent in gathering evidence to
demonstrate IPV incident took place
Can testify on behalf of battered parent
Can obtain OP on behalf of the child
Can assess whether obtaining child support as part of
OP is a positive option
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Domestic Relations Law
and Batterer Accountability
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Custody and Visitation Proceedings:
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Can serve as an exit strategy from child protection
case if CPS is willing to work with battered parent
Judges are required to consider effects of adult IPV in
assessing best interests of the child
Worker can testify on behalf of parent and/or child
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Batterer Accountability
in Practice
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Even when batterers are held legally accountable, the
potential for future exposure persists because the system
is unwilling to separate batterers from their children.
Changes in batterer behavior then must be the primary
vehicle for ensuring child safety which hinges on the
effectiveness of intervention programs:
=Provide referrals and ensure program completion
=Address related issues such as employment and
substance abuse
=Partner with programs addressing fatherhood issues
© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation
Desired Outcomes of Child Welfare
Cases involving IPV
Safety, permanency and stability for children
= Child(ren) remain in the care of non-offending parent
= Necessary supports and referrals will be extended to adult
victim and children
= Adult victim will experience CPS intervention as nonblaming and supportive
= Culturally sensitive interventions will be offered
= Batterers will be held accountable for their abusive
behaviors
= Batterers will receive interventions addressing violent and
coercive behavior
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© 2005 CDHS College Relations Group Buffalo State
College/SUNY at Buffalo Research Foundation