06 Jul Season 4 Episode 7: Survivors Are Better Parents Than Most People Think (even survivors themselves)
In this episode, David & Ruth talk about why the Safe & Together Institute focuses on survivor protective capacities and some of the research behind this approach. While assessments of harm and risk, and trauma frameworks are important, these approaches highlight danger and pathologies. But these approaches, while necessary, are not sufficient enough for true collaboration and partnering with survivors.
In a world where there are gender double standards related to parenting, e.g. higher standards for women as parents than for men, it is essential that we don’t just focus on harm but also on survivors’ protective efforts and acts of resistance and parenting skills even in environments where the perpetrator is controlling so much. Assessment, and documentation of survivors’ protective capacities can make the difference between whether those children stay safely with that survivor, removed by child protection or placed with an abusive parent.
David and Ruth discuss some of the research behind this strength-based approach to survivors as parents like:
- The growing body of evidence to suggest many domestic violence survivors are good parents who actively take steps to promote their child’s safety and well-being.
- Multiple studies find that mothers who are domestic violence survivors are functioning similarly or even better as parents than their counterparts who are not being abused.
- Greater stress and negative effects of violence on the adult survivor does not always equal compromised parenting.
- A majority of domestic violence survivors, even those experiencing severe violence, do not experience depression or anxiety.
- Most domestic violence survivors do not use drugs nor abuse alcohol to the point of drunkenness.
- Despite barriers created by the perpetrator, many domestic violence survivors engage in a range of actions to promote the well-being and safety of their children including medical care, employment, and housing.
- Maternal warmth or “mothering resilience” may play a critical protective role for children exposed to perpetrator behavior.
David & Ruth will also talk about how assessing, validating and documenting survivors’ strengths can play an important role in Partnering with Survivors. When professionals assess, validate and document survivors’ protective capacities:
- The validation can combat the perpetrator’s mental and psychological control– “you are not a bad mom but a good mom operating in a difficult situation”
- It can help systems and practitioners partner with survivors, e.g. identify strengths, validating them, and making plans based on their strengths not just their risks
- It inoculates survivors from bad decisions based on failure to protect and parental alienation–the two major myths that shape how systems interact with mothers who are domestic violence survivors.
Now available! Mapping the Perpetrator’s Pattern: A Practitioner’s Tool for Improving Assessment, Intervention, and Outcomes The web-based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool is a virtual practice tool for improving assessment, intervention, and outcomes through a perpetrator pattern-based approach. The tool allows practitioners to apply the Model’s critical concepts and principles to their current caseload in real time.