LIFE AT THE CROSSROADS:Understanding Domestic violence and its Intersection with DisabilityPresented by Project SAFEALocal Collaboration betweenVIBS Family Violence & Rape Crisis Centerand United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Suffolk Inc.
Overall Objectives • Staff will gain a better understanding of domestic violence • Staff will gain an understanding of the intersection of domestic violence and disabilities • Acquire a vocabulary for sensitive and comfortable discussion of the issues of domestic violence • Staff will recognize the different types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and verbal
Overall Objectives • Understand the unique dynamics of domestic violence against survivors with disabilities • Staff will learn how to respond more effectively in working with a survivor with a disability • Staff will learn what resources are essential in working effectively with a survivor with a disability
Ground Rules • Use respectful language and tone • Be respectful of everyone’s different experiences • Create a safe place to: • Ask questions • Make mistakes • Learn from each other
National statistics on domestic violence • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime(The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) • Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds(UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000) • 86% of family violence victims are female(The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
National statistics on domestic violence • About 50% of all women will experience some type of domestic violence in their lifetime (The American Medical Association) • Battering is the greatest single cause of injury to women in the US, more than car accidents, muggings, and rape COMBINED
New York State Statistics on Domestic Violence • In 2005, there were 123,649 orders of protection filed. (The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) • In 2006, there were 50,088 reported cases of domestic violence. (The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) • In 2006, 38,674 adults and 20,119 children were assisted by domestic violence programs. (The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
New York State Statistics on Domestic Violence • In 2006, 133 women and 28 children were killed as a result of domestic violence. (The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) • In 2010, 5 women from Suffolk County were murdered by an intimate partner
Myths VS Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: Domestic violence is not common Fact: Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women • Myth: People who batter are mentally ill and can’t help themselves Fact: Battering is a learned behavior and can change over time
Myths VS Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: Alcohol / drugs causes domestic violence Fact: Domestic violence is an issue with power and control. • Myth: People who are batterers need anger management Fact: Anger management will actually make the batterer more dangerous by validating their anger
Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: Survivors likes the abuse and that’s why they stay Fact: Survivor’s are faced with many obstacles in leaving and is in 65% - 75% more danger when leaving abusive relationship • Myth: Couple counseling is helpful in addressing and rectifying domestic violence Fact: Couple counseling is contraindicated as it can be very dangerous for the victim
Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: Domestic violence only occurs in uneducated, minority, or dysfunctional families Fact: Domestic violence affects every demographic group, regardless of race, ethnicity, economics, class, sexual orientation, occupation, or education
Definition of Domestic Violence Domestic violenceis a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. Domestic violence occurs within intimate relationships, and abusers can be spouses, partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, or caregivers. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
Domestic Violence is: • about one person using force/violence or the threat of force/violence as a tactic to gain and maintain power and control over another • a pattern that alternates between caring behaviors that reinforce the relationship and violent behaviors that intimidate the victim • caused by the perpetrator, not the victim or the relationship
Domestic Violence Can Occur Between People Who Are: • Married • Divorced • Have a child in common • Cohabiting • Dating or formerly dating • Same sex couples • Related by blood or marriage • An intimate relationship that is non-sexual and non-romantic but includes one party caring for and providing for another adult’s primary needs
Forms of Abuse • Physical • Verbal • Emotional • Sexual • Financial • Stalking • Jealousy & Isolation • Threats & Intimidation • Destruction of Personal Property • Injury to Family Pets
Tactics of abuse • Physical: hitting, smacking, punching, kicking, biting, restraining, shoving, withholding access to medical care, threats of violence, etc. • Sexual: forcing sex or sexual acts, withholding sex, forcing pregnancy or abortion, knowingly transmitting STD’s, forcing the viewing of or participation in pornography, etc. • Isolation: Controlling access to family, friends, services; controlling access to or breaking computers, phones, etc.
Tactics of abuse • Emotional: Using ridiculing language, name calling,disclosing personal information, withholding affection, etc. • Economic: Controlling access to money, misusing or stealing money, fostering financial dependency (i.e. not allowing job, getting her fired), etc. • Exploiting the Children:Threatening to get full custody, threatening to report her to Child Protective Services, making children ridicule her.
Tactics of abuse • Minimizing, Denying, Justifying, and Blaming: Minimizing abuse; saying “all I did was push her”; denying abuse, calling her “crazy” or “delusional”; justifying the abuse, saying she “provoked him”; blaming; “If you only would have listened to me than I would not have hit you”.
SENSITIVITY IN TALKING WITH SURVIVORS • Service providers should refrain from using non-violent terms • Let the survivor guide you in what feels most comfortable for them in communicating and understanding • Straightforward terminology may be re-traumatizing for the survivor • Don’t blame the survivor • Be non-judgmental • Provide legal information, but don’t impose an agenda
Characteristics of a batterer • Control • Entitlement • Selfishness or Self-centeredness • Superiority • Possessiveness • Confusion of love and abuse • Manipulative • Contradictory statements and behaviors • Externalization of behaviors and responsibility • Denial, minimization, & victim blaming • Serial battering
Common experiences of survivors • Abuse is often consistent and escalates over time • Abuse can take on many different forms (physical, emotional, sexual, financial, etc.) • Manipulation, threats, power & control tactics are used by abuser • Abuser isolates her from support systems and services
Common experiences of survivors • Occurs without regard to race, age, class, culture, economic status, disability, gender, income, sexual preference, or education level. • The decision to leave an abuser may be confusing, difficult, and scary, and is always potentially dangerous.
Effects of Domestic Violence on the survivor • Physiological changes to brain structures resulting in diminished communication pathways, logic and reasoning skills • Heightened sense of fear, guilt, self-blame, wariness, hyper-vigilance • Lack of trust with justice departments, medical professionals, community, family • Low self-esteem and insecurity, embarrassment • Anxiety and depression, worry about future • Post traumatic stress disorder • Poor health, self neglect
Effects of Domestic Violence on the survivor • Can result in permanent or temporary disability (i.e. TBI, spinal cord injury, PTSD) • Constant, inescapable reminder of abuse • New health challenges; exacerbation of existing health issues • Dramatic changes in family dynamics (lose custody, abuser becomes primary caregiver, increased dependence on abuser for daily needs) • New or additional economic / employment challenges • May struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger
Common Barriers to Disclosing Domestic Violence • Fear of losing housing and family • Fear of police involvement, children being taken away • Shelter requirements (legal action or proof of domestic violence) • Emotional, psychological, and mental implications of disclosing
Common Barriers to Disclosing Domestic Violence • Shame, embarrassment, and guilt felt by the survivor • Fear of judgment • Fear of loss of financial support • Fear of reprisal by abuser
Safety Planning • An individualized plan focusing on identifying specific strategies and interventions that may increase the safety of a woman being abused. • May be developed for women living with, dating, or preparing to leave an abuser • May include a checklist of items to take when leaving • May include strategies for at home, the workplace, or other public places. • Is NOT a guarantee of safety, but can assist in improving safety.
Safety Plan Components • Secure extra money in a place unknown to the abuser • Carry order of protection at all times and leave copies at locations frequented on a daily basis (employment, service programs, etc.) • Prepare a “go” bag with overnight essentials including extra medication, medical supplies and adaptive equipment and keep bag in safekeeping. • Make extra copies of car / house keys and leave them in a secure location
WHY DON’T THEY JUST LEAVE?
Challenges that prevent a survivor from leaving an abusive relationship • Loves her partner; partner is not always abusive • Abuser may make frequent promises to change • Blames self as cause of abuse • Children (i.e. losing custody, impact of leaving, foster care, CPS involvement) • Financial challenges; risk of homelessness, poverty • May not recognize what is happening as domestic violence
challenges that prevent a survivor from leaving an abusive relationship • Religious or cultural beliefs • Drug and alcohol abuse (abuser’s and/or survivor’s) • “He needs me” • Fear of unknown • Fear of retaliation and further abuse • Fear that the abuser will hurt himself or family • Fear of stigmas • Survivors are in 65 to 75% more danger when leaving than at any other time
Statistics on Disability and Domestic Violence • 92 % of women with disabilities ranked violence and abuse as the top priority of topics that affected their lives (Source: Berkley Planning Associates (1996). Priorities for Future Research: Results of BPA’s Delphi Survey of Disabled Women. Oakland, CA: Author). • Women with disabilities and women who are deaf are at least one and one half to two times more likely than women without disabilities to experience abuse (Source: Stimpson, L., and Best, E. Courage Above All: Sexual Assault and Women with Disabilities. Prepared for Disabled Women’s Network Ontario, 1991)
Statistics on Disability and Domestic Violence 97% to 99% of abusers are known and trusted by survivors who have an intellectual disability • 32% were family members or acquaintances. • 44% had a relationship with the survivor specifically related to the person’s disability (i.e. residential care staff, transportation provider, personal care attendant) (Accessing Safety Initiative Website: Baladerian, N. Sexual Abuse of People with Developmental Disabilities, Sexuality and Disability 1991)
Statistics on Disability and Domestic Violence • The risk of being physically or sexually assaulted for adults with developmental disabilities is likely 4 to 10 times as high as it is for other adults. (Accessing Safety Initiative Website, Sobsey, 1994)
Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: No one would hurt or commit an act of violence against a woman with a disability FACT: Women with disabilities are just as likely as women without disabilities to be victims of domestic violence. In addition, for women with the abuse tended to last longer and involve more than one perpetrator.
Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence • Myth: Caring for a person with a disability is stressful; therefore, abuse in those situations is understandable, expected, or justified by the circumstances. Fact: While it can be stressful to care for someone else, stress is, in this and most cases, used as an excuse for abusive behavior. Most people experience stress, as a caregiver or in general, but do not respond by abusing other people.
Caregiver Stress vs. Domestic Violence • Stress Model: Abuse to an individual with a disability is caused by stress experienced in response to the demanding responsibilities of being a caregiver. Interventions seek support for both the caregiver and person being abused • Power and Control Model: Person makes a purposeful decision to be abusive with the goal of gaining control over partner. Based on a belief of entitlement. Interventions seek safety of woman being abused and accountability of the abuser.
Caregiver Stress vs. Domestic Violence Problems with Stress Model • Ignores needs of women being abused • May increase potential danger • Is victim-blaming • Excuses abusers action, reduces accountability • Woman abused may feel self-blame, shared responsibility • Discourage women from seeking help • Abuse is not caused by stress
Caregiver Stress vs. Domestic Violence POINTS TO REMEMBER: • Safety Primary focus of any intervention should be the safety of the person who is abused. • Accountability All forms of abuse are unacceptable. Abuser has sole responsibility for abuse. • No Excuses Everyone experiences stress; it is not an excuse for abusive behaviors
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND WOMEN WITH DISABILTIES: USE OF POWER AND CONTROL
VULNERABILITY FACTORS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO DOMESTIC violence • Inaccurate societal views of people with disabilities. • Insufficient education about safety and domestic / sexual violence, personal rights, appropriate sexual relationships and proper responses to victimization. • Dependence on service providers, primary caretaker, family member or intimate partner for a range of living skills and personal assistance.
VULNERABILITY FACTORS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO DOMESTIC violence • Lack of education about perpetrator motives. • Lack of credibility in the eyes of the criminal justice system. • They are viewed as easy targets.
Tactics of Abuse:Physical • Forcing mobility without assistive device • Causing injuries by taking advantage of disability • Withholding food, personal care, medications • Overmedicating or misusing medication to cause pain
Tactics of Abuse:Physical • Refusing to comply with safety or medical recommendations • Ignoring symptoms of illness • Unnecessary use of restraints
Tactics of Abuse: Sexual • Threatening to leave or deny care if she doesn’t consent to sexual activity • Abusing intimate body parts; grabbing genitals while providing care • Taking advantage of lack of understanding about sex • Forcing sterilization