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Supporting critical thinking, learning and victim-defined advocacy...

Victim-defined systemic advocacy implications

How can my partner’s violence be reduced or stopped?How will I meet my family’s basic needs?Will life be better if I stay or if I go?
Who will help me get what I need to be safe?


I do what I have to do for my kids. They come first before me.

— African American Victim, From Center for Family Policy and Practice Listening Sessions, 2009

Victim-defined systemic advocacy implication

The impact of violence on children and their safety and well-being are integral parts of domestic violence systemic advocacy and analysis. Central to that analysis is the role of the children’s parents, both the victim parent and the parent who abuses. The cultural context of child development, parenting, and families must also frame the analysis. Domestic violence must not be the only risk to children considered. The resources, strengths, and resilience of children and their families integrated into the policies and programs developed.

Ideas:

  • Improve current methods to assess the impact of violence on children: How can we more accurately know the effects on each child? How can the impact of other risks be included? How can strengths, resources, and resilience of children and families be included?
  • Promote strategies that protect victim parents and children together: What systems currently separate them? What can be done to link them? Under what circumstances are separate strategies appropriate? How are parent-child bonds strengthened in these strategies?
  • Promote realistic expectations of battered parents:
    This is particularly important in the context of child protection policy. When children may be at risk, unrealistic and even impossible expectations can be placed on a battered parent. These do not protect the child and can further reduce the safety options for the parent. What process is necessary to develop realistic expectations for each parent?
  • Improve current methods to assess the violence of fathers who batter and the impact of contact with their children: Does a father who batters pose a risk to his children? How? To the children’s mother? How? What effect is contact having on the children?
  • Collaborate with programs and people that work on children’s issues: Victims and their children will benefit if child-focused systemic advocacy effectively integrates domestic violence responses. Similarly, it is important to include the needs and perspectives of children and battered parents in domestic violence systemic advocacy. A meaningful collaboration between domestic violence programs and the child protection system might offer significant systemic improvement to victims and their children. Potential collaborations may be found with child advocacy and parenting programs.
  • Support efforts to advocate for policies, programs, and funding that will improve options for children’s well-being and growth: These might include efforts to promote love and support of family, and access to shelter, food, health care, quality education, friends, activities, protection from violence and other harm.
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