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Through the Eyes of a Child-Final
Transcript of Through the Eyes of a Child-Final
Bancroft, L. (2002). Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. New York, New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.
Bancroft, L. & Silverman, J.(2002). The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.
DeScilo, T. (2009).Understanding and Treating Traumatic Bonds.The Healing Center On-Line. Miami, FL
Forbes, H. & Post, B. (2009). Beyond Consequences, Logical, and Control: A Love Based Approach to Helping Children with Severe Behaviors. Boulder, Colorado: Beyond Consequences Institute, LLC.
Holden, G. & Ritchie, K. (1991) Linking Extreme Marital Discord, Child Rearing, and Child Behavior Problems: Evidence from Battered Women. Child Development, Vol.62, Issue 2, pages 311–327.
Perry, B. (2006). The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog. New York, New York: Basic Books.
Sniscak, C. & VanFleet, R. (2011, September). Child-Centered Play Therapy: Its Application with Children with Trauma Histories. Workshop conducted at The Women’s Crisis & Family Outreach Center, Castle Rock, Colorado.
VanFleet, R. (1994). Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play. Sarasota, Florida: Professional Resource Press.
“Maybe I can feel safe?”
A letter from a 10 year old girl after a therapy session.
II. Developmental and Neurological Impact on Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence
I. Characteristics of Perpetrators of Domestic Violence as Seen through their Children’s Eyes
Facts about Domestic Violence and the impact on Children
Anne Hellstrom, LPC
Tamara McNay, LPC
The Crisis Center
The Crisis Center
III. Hope for Healing: Effective Interventions for the Child, Victim Parent and Offending Parent
Perpetrators are 6x more likely to sexually abuse their children than a non-perpetrating parent.
The risk of a child being sexually abused in the home is directly correlated with the presence of domestic violence towards the partner.
Through the Eyes of a Child
A View From Within
Mission: The Crisis Center exists to end domestic violence through advocacy, education, and prevention; while helping communities live free of violence.
Founded in 1985 and serve Douglas, Elbert & Lincoln counties
Emergency Shelter/Community Based Advocacy
Clinical Therapy Services for survivors and child witnesses of Domestic Violence
Outreach and Community Education
What is Domestic Violence?
Crisis Center Definition
A pattern of one person abusing control over another within an intimate relationship
Defines an “intimate partner” as a romantic relationship regardless of history of sexual activity or sexual orientation.
Abuse of control can include: physical abuse, threat of physical harm, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, spiritual, and financial control/abuse.
Extension of Definition of Domestic Violence
Variations to the “traditional” or “text book” definitions
Cultural Considerations of Domestic Violence
Ethnic/cultural view of male/female roles
Beliefs about seeking outside assistance vs. “keeping it in the family”
Using status as a way to control the partner
Threat to “outing” a partner
I. Characteristics of perpetrators of domestic violence as seen through their children’s eyes
II. Developmental and Neurological Impact
III. Hope for Healing: Effective Interventions for the Child, Victim Parent and Offending Parent
Over 5 million children are abused each year in the United States
50% of Perpetrators of Domestic Violence engage in physical abuse of their children
“batterers were more frequently angry with children than non-perpetrating parents, spanked their children more than 2x as often and were more likely to spank their children “hard”. (Holden and Richie, 1991)
Perpetrators are 7x more likely to abuse their children than a non-perpetrating parent
Physical abuse of a child is directly correlated with the level of physical abuse of the partner
Other risk factors:
Level of Control
Rigid belief system
Abused as a child
(Lundy Bancroft, 2006)
Elder Abuse: Physical abuse or financial exploitation of an aging adult who depends upon an adult child, relative or a paid caregiver for daily care and activities, including access to medical treatment/medication, mobility, housing and finances.
At-Risk Adults: Physical abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of adults with physical or cognitive disabilities
Using the legal system to take children away from the non-perpetrating parent
Deliberate economic harm to children
Ongoing damage to the relationship between the child and the non-perpetrating parent
Physical and/or verbal assault to the non-perpetrating parent during exchanges
Being exposed to violence in perpetrating parent’s new relationship
Loss of resources for resilience
Continuation of most risks that existed while the couple was together
"Maybe She is Crazy…?"
A letter by a 7 year old boy who wakes to hear his parents downstairs.
What did you hear from the child that might speak to any alignment that may be occurring?
What do you hear about the child's belief system?
If you would have gone upstairs and seen this little boy, what would his emotional state have been? What about his sister?
Talk about the similarities/differences in how the children are experiencing a home with Domestic Violence?
What does the Child See?
The perpetrating parent undermines the victim parent by creating an alliance with one or more of the children.
“Do you see how crazy your mom/dad is?”
“In this house, I’m the boss, you do what I say, you don’t have to do what she/he says”.
The perpetrating parent soothing the child after an “incident” by promising to do something “special” together or a gift.
The perpetrating parent convincing the children that the victim parent is “breaking the family apart” or “saying lies about me”.
Secure Attachment vs. Traumatic Attachment
What messages is the child internalizing?
What I’m Going to be Like as a Parent One Day!
Learning what it means to have the power in a relationship and how to get it:
Children absorb messages from the perpetrating parent’s behavior that shape their responses to the victim parent.
Ex: the child starts to call the other parent “idiot”, “fat”, or threatening to “tell on” the victim parent to the abusive parent.
The Trauma Barometer:
The child's immediate impression of the state of the perpetrators mood.
Manipulation: The Underlying Source of Power & The Parallel Process
Minimizing, denying or blaming others for the abuse, especially the victim parent, and shifting the responsibility away from themselves
Emotionally isolating the child from the victim parent systematically
The perpetrating parent treats the child as they would the victim parent by inter-weaving the use of criticism and praise as a way to condition the child to become dependent on that parent's approval to feel secure within themselves and their environment.
Taking credit for the child’s achievements, enabling the child to believe they NEED this parent to be successful.
“Maybe I am a bully?”
A letter by a 12 year old boy struggling in school
"A child with a brain adapted for an environment of chaos, unpredictability, threat and distress is ill-suited for the modern classroom or playground. It is an unfortunate reality that the very adaptive responses that help the child survive and cope in a chaotic and unpredictable environment puts the child at a disadvantage when outside that context. "
The Brain and Trauma
Brain Trauma in Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence
The Limbic System: The Emotional Brain
Fear changes the way we think!
The Non-Traumatized Child
Survival Mode: Fight, Flight or Freeze
Children who have been exposed to domestic violence and/or child abuse perceive the world through that lens.
They operate from a paradigm of fear to ensure their own safety and security by acting out, internalizing or dissociating.
A “child of trauma” is a “scared child”, a stressed child living out of a primal or survival mode in order to maintain their existence.
(Forbes & Post, 2009)
What Does Trauma Look Like in Children?
Due to the hyper/hypo-aroused state of a traumatized child, these children tend to get misdiagnosed with:
Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Trauma
Chronic Medical Conditions
Based on what we just heard in the audioclip, what would you imagine will happen for this girl in the future, having had a positive therapeutic experience?
Effective Interventions for the Child
Non-directive Play Therapy
Rise VanFleet~ Child-Centered Play Therapy
Non-directive play therapy provides safety, control and stress release, none of which are present in a home with domestic violence
Play is a child’s natural language and communication outlet
Engaging in play therapy involves the Limbic System to increase neural connections which contribute to self-regulatory processes ultimately increases the child’s ability to emotionally regulate
What Lies Behind The Mask?
Abuse is not the same as anger management.
The perpetrator CAN control and focus the abusive behaviors on the identified victim(s) as a way to perpetuate the pattern of power and control.
The perpetrator is able to “perform” in public or with others who are assessing parenting competency and/or custody recommendations
Child Welfare Caseworkers
The Batterer as a Parent
“Children’s typical reactions to participating in professionally observed interactions with the perpetrator of domestic violence are in a state of survival”
“Children who live with abuse or exposure to abuse may develop an acute awareness of which situations represent greater danger and learn to read intuitively the shifts in the abuser’s mood or attitude.”
Children appear to be at ease and/or comfortable as long as outsiders are present. This could be mis-perceived by an evaluator as a secure attachment and not the a trauma bond. This can be so difficult as an evaluator to determine what is being played out.
“The perpetrator can appear charming and humorous in front of others and children wanting this, often show positive responses.”
(Bancroft & Silverman, 2002)
Why Not Talk Therapy?
In times of emotional dys-regulation the prefrontal cortex (rational brain) shuts down; therefore, talking is not effective.
Trauma resides in the “emotional brain” so play and physical movement are necessary to involve the Limbic System where the child can revisit the trauma with a focus on feelings and body sensations.
Therapist engagement in play, child’s natural language, provides for a healthy attachment experience for the child.
Child can develop tools and competencies for coping.
EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR is a technique used to reprocess traumatic memories, negative beliefs about self, somatic body sensations and negative emotions that are a result of a traumatic experience.
This technique directly targets traumatic memories that are maladaptively stored in the Hippocampus.
Once successfully processed and the emotional intensity of the memory has diminished, the child can develop new and healthy beliefs about themselves and new methods of coping.
Effective Interventions for the Non-Offending Parent
Personal therapy: individual, support groups, equine-assisted psychotherapy and/or EMDR
Family therapy: With children and non offending parent
Filial Therapy: Combining psycho-educational, empowerment and play therapy methods that actively involve parents in their child’s treatment.
Parenting Classes/Support: Crisis Center recommends and provides the “Parenting Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control” model.
Effective Interventions for the Perpetrating Parent
"Domestic Violence Risk and Needs Assessment (DVRNA)"
Prior to beginning treatment, a DVOMB-Approved Clinician will assess the client with the DVRNA to identify and determine the level of treatment needed as defined by the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) Standards .
Types of abuse, how to eliminate abusive behaviors, empathy, and how to recognize the effects of their actions on others.
How to understand, identify, and manage their personal pattern of violence.
Following successful completion of a DV offender
treatment program, the following should be considered:
Individual Therapy-Closer assessment of exposure to family violence as a child and/or history of trauma
Re-unification Therapy with children by a trained clinician familiar with Domestic Violence
Family Therapy and/or Couples Therapy (safety needs to be assessed prior)
(Sniscak, C. & VanFleet, R. (2011, September)
This solidifies that “I’m your favorite parent" or the “special bond”.
If you would like to follow along please go to:
Without intervention, this is where children can take on traits of the abuser or the victim due to the desensitization of violence as they enter into adult relationships.
Operate out of the higher, more complex part of the brain
This child has a greater tolerance for stress and capacity for resilience, self-regulation and adaptive coping responses.
Six Core Strengths for Children: A Vaccine Against Violence
~Dr. Bruce Perry
Emotional Tug of War
Attachment is defined as "a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.
Secure (love-based): The child's physical and emotional needs are met from an early age, where they are able to return to their attachment figure for security, a "secure base".
Traumatic (fear-based): When a child forms an emotional attachment and dependency with an attachment figure that vacillates between "scary" and "nice"-the critical component in forming a traumatic bond.
(Ainsworth, 1973 & Bowlby, 1969)
Who is the secure base in a home with domestic violence?
The distressed child will seek out an attachment figure searching for an appropriate and sensitive response to meet their needs.
The child aligns with the perpetrating parent for fear of abuse turning onto self; therefore, the child perceives this parent as their secure base (traumatic attachment)
Idealized Attachment: Develops as a defense mechanism for children who have had to dissociate off their terrifying memories in order to maintain their attachment. (de Zulueta
"Fear immobilizes and deepens attachment." (Carnes, 1997)
The victim's capacity to respond in an appropriate and sensitive way to the distressed child can be impacted by their own traumatic state of distress.
Even though the victim parent can respond in a loving way, within their own state of fear, the victim's ability to meet the safety needs of the child are hindered.
66% of perpetrators reportedly witness intimate partner violence as children
Differential "State" Reactivity
Consider... Is it trauma or a behavioral issue?
The Traumatized Child
This child responds from the more primitive part of the brain...aka: The Dinosaur Brain
Decreased capacity for stress tolerance and impaired ability to emotionally regulate and respond with positive coping skills.
Lingers in a state of hyper/hypo-vigilance (ie.aggressive or dissociative responses)
Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study
Confirmed a significant relationship between adverse childhood experiences &...
Domestic Violence Offender Treatment Programs:
(Lundy Bancroft, 2006)