Showing posts with label Oliver Williams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oliver Williams. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2016

Reflecting Forward at BISC-MI 2016 Conference (Day Two)

(Most links within this article connect to the Facebook Domestic Violence Intervention and Education group, where I detailed most of the conference. I apologize in advance for the length of this article, the details and information are extensive so I tried to do them justice in brief, which for the content of a blog entry are not brief at all. I hope those who attended can use this to reflect on the presentations you witnessed, and maybe expand your learning beyond the conference itself. Those who did not attend - I hope you can see the content of a BISCMI conference and join us next time!)

Day Two of the BISC-MI conference started with direct grounding in the work, and board member and homemade cookie maker extraordinaire, Jeffrie Cape stated, "we need to remember, the purpose of domestic violence intervention work is to create safety, respect, and health for victims/survivors of domestic violence." This needs to be stressed regularly, and can be an important measure of a program in how much they have a foundation in this idea of victim/survivor safety.

Lori (last name omitted for safety and privacy reasons - important to be aware of with victims/survivors) shared her experience of living with her abuser, and the various ways he worked to isolate her - and many of the reasons she did not identify his behavior as domestic violence. The time she went through pain and fear - and the reason why she justified her suffering as being unimportant, are messages we need to be intimately aware of. Not just for the partners and ex-partners of the abusers we work with, but for understanding the justifications of abusers themselves.

In my direct work with abusers, I am thankful for the ongoing interactions I have with victims and survivors through the Facebook DVIE group. Listening to stories, providing referrals, or often just having the ability to listen provides me with a depth of understanding that enhances the interventions I work on with perpetrators. I would like to challenge all of you reading who do BIP/DVIP work to consider your own exposure to these stories, and how you make them real in your practice.

A big part of "reflecting forward" is in reviewing systems that have been in place that overall we need to be more informed about. Scott Miller works extensive to train people on how to use the "Duluth Model," and in doing so is constantly needing to separate out the BIP/DVIP group process part of the model, and bring forward that overall their approach is about engaging with and changing community perceptions and messaging about domestic violence. This "Community Coordinated Response" is key to any interventions using the Duluth Model, yet very few groups and individuals using their model fully implement this critical component.

Praxis International, an agency that works closely with Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP, the "Duluth Model") has worked for some time to counter claims against its work, and to try and raise understanding about both their groups, their community work, and the plethora of "Duluth-like" BIP/DVIP groups who use Power and Control wheels, but do not accurately follow their model. Scott discussed in his presentation that BIP/DVIP should be designed to hold abusers accountable - not just in groups, but within community, by community members including law enforcement, but also connected systems that might be influential in guiding an abuser toward respect and health (examples may be businesses, schools, places of worship, etc).

Scott also brought forward that research on BIP/DVIP sometimes states that the Duluth Model does not work, and base that conclusion on studying BIP/DVIP groups who say they use Duluth, but may only do the group sessions for abusers, and these research studies almost never go directly to the source to research DAIP.

Oliver Williams spoke to looking to engaging communities as an essential part of effectively addressing domestic violence. Unfortunately, I stepped out of the conference to prepare a bit more for the AQUILA "Truth Squad" portion and missed his discussion. However, I have seen Oliver present on similar topics in the past, and can say that he spends time addressing the need to understand communities if you want to work with them. This is a lesson that we need to consider on broader levels in community coordinated responses, and how we can move away from imposing changes and instead work with and listen to communities to understand their challenges, as well as their successes and the work they may have been doing to work toward respectful and healthy relationships. If anyone who attended the conference who has notes from Oliver's presentation, and would be willing to share them, please do so in the comments of this post.

Lisa Nitsch furthered the conversation about working in community, particularly her experience of being a white woman working in a predominantly Black community. She started with a historical perspective of Baltimore and addressed ways the city has been oppressive to People of Color overall, and methods used to divide communities - and specifically how those tactics and historical political decisions have led to Baltimore being the most segregated city in the United States. Lisa made a point to highlight the work of Kimberle Crenshaw to address the intersectionality of oppressions faced by Black women, and where "white feminism" has created invisibility for Women of Color in the differences they experience with domestic and sexual violence within our society. This point is important in exploring her work within Baltimore, as her status as a white woman needed to be considered in how she worked within her community.

Lisa used several examples of the need to consider intersectionality of oppressions in work to end domestic violence, and to do community coordination. Some important points for BIP/DVIP work include considerations of your facilitators matching the demographic breakdown of the community, having a curriculum that speaks to those differences if they exist, the need to cross-train staff on self-care issues that may overlap with hurtful, controlling, abusive, and violent behavior (such as looking at employment issues, connections that abusers have within community, etc), how feedback from group members is incorporated into the program, and making sure that administrators with power and privilege are not making decisions about programming and community engagement without the involvement of the community itself.

Next Ricardo Carrillo brought forward perspectives from his work with the Mexican Latino community, and described some of the unique challenges to addressing domestic violence. He described how many men he has worked with have grown up as children in environments which equated love with pain, a sense of moral correction to match values that stressed male dominance, and a concept of a spirit/soul wound that can create imbalance, internalized oppression, and ongoing harm in relationships. He brought forward how such childhood experiences may lead to difficulties for men in creating healthy attachments, and leading to dismissing behavior in relationships (as a part of being anxious from modeling behavior witnessed in childhood) or a preoccupied, ambivalent attachment in adult relationships (partially based on conflicting emotions from experiences in childhood).

As a result of these experiences, and in a need to address the hurtful connections men he has worked with have developed in their lives and relationships, Ricardo discussed the need to discuss and develop healthy connections in these men's lives. To discuss childhood experiences as a part of exploring internal coping strategies that can build to abusive and violent behavior in relationships. He also spoke to making cultural connections to health and respect that can be found throughout Mexican and Latino culture, and the use of parables, stories, legends, and history to create repairs and internal reflection.

Hoda Amine presented on the Muslim community responses to domestic violence, and referenced the Muslim Code of Behavior that puts forward community rules that overlap with respectful and healthy behavior discussions that often are a focus of BIP/DVIP groups overall. Some examples of this code include truthfulness, sincerity, unselfishness, humility, patience, forgiveness, purity and cleanliness, honesty, goodness and kindness to others, courage, consideration and respect for others, moderation, and cheerfulness. These values and behavior guidelines can be critical for all discussions during group sessions, but can also be a way to discuss specific movement toward ending domestic violence with Muslim men.

TA Bashir followed up by reviewing history of the Islamic faith, and the challenges that came from moving a people toward new patterns of worship and community value. Many patterns of behavior by men toward women stayed with older traditions that were oppressive and destructive, and these traditions are still coming out today hundreds of years after the formation of the religion. TA talked about creating connections to a womanist tradition, and guiding men to be more aware of the history behind their faith, and the challenges in working toward health and respect.

In looking at how faith can inform and transform change in men who are abusive, Chris Moles engaged the audience in methods of analyzing belief systems without judgment. He states that, "we do what we do because we want what we want," then further described, "we want what we want because we think what we think." This distillation of motive and reason behind abusive and controlling behavior allows for critical viewing of selfishness and a lack of value for family and self. He describes himself as a complementarian, but in a fashion which sees the natural balance and equality of men and women, and how relationships involve working together. Christianity and church services, he explained, have often become gatherings of performance art and socializing with little room for growth of respectful and healthy belief systems - and engaging abusers in their beliefs behind their faith, and their values behind their relationships can be excellent angles for interventions.

Staff from Emerge (Susan Cayouette, Ted German, and Erika Robinson) finished the day by detailing their work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender, and Queer domestic violence offenders, as well as their work with heterosexual female perpetrators and anger management clients. This work has helped in better informing their work with heterosexual male domestic violence offenders as they have struggled to consider differences in power dynamics, levels and overlaps of entitlement, and has grown knowledge of the need to analyze reactive violence within male heterosexual abusers.

In the next post, I will be finishing up my summarization of the BISC-MI conference by detailing the third day. Again, feel free to visit the DVIE group on Facebook or visit the DVIntervention Twitter feed for links and more information. For links to conference materials, including presentations, click here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reflecting Forward at BISC-MI 2016 Conference (Day One)

(Most links within this article connect to the Facebook Domestic Violence Intervention and Education group, where I detailed most of the conference. I apologize in advance for the length of this article, the details and information are extensive so I tried to do them justice in brief, which for the content of a blog entry are not brief at all. I hope those who attended can use this to reflect on the presentations you witnessed, and maybe expand your learning beyond the conference itself. Those who did not attend - I hope you can see the content of a BISCMI conference and join us next time!)

Since 1994, the Batterer Intervention Services Coalition has been steadfast in bringing service providers from around the state of Michigan to discuss trends, challenges, and updates to work with domestic violence offenders. Initially, they had a plan to be one of fifty-one chapters throughout the United States with goals of organizing work within the field. While there have been several attempts since 1994 to make that vision a reality, currently BISC-MI is the only organization that brings together not only providers within Michigan, but people from throughout the nation and the world who are interested in improving interventions for abusers.

The 2016 conference marks BISC-MI's 21st conference, and the theme of "Reflecting Forward" created an organized approach to considering the history of domestic violence work, and using that history to build toward the future. One tactic involved removing breakout workshops, instead using a themed plenary approach to the structure. This move may have galvanized attendee's focus, but I am sure was a disappointment to those who found particular topics not in their interests. At the same time, it offered a challenge to all to be engaged even in those areas of discussion that do not hold personal interest - but may be important to reflect on, or expand on, for yourself or those we work with.

The first day began with a presentation by Jackson Katz, an author, researcher, and presenter on objectification issues in media, using a masculinitites lens to consider sexism and other oppressions involved in our cultural makeup. He has a style that is unique to him, and much of the information covered would be groundbreaking for those new to work to end domestic violence. He spoke of the need for a paradigm shift on talking about gender violence - namely putting the emphasis on perpetrators, or those responsible (giving the example we speak of teen pregnancy and focus on girls, but do not talk about boys impregnating girls). Also a concept that domestic violence is a "women's issue" and instead shifting thinking to it being very much a "men's issue."

More interesting to me in his talk was his addressing various cohorts of men in the movement, quoting work by Michael Messner on "Some Men." I would have liked Dr. Katz to spend more time speaking to media, as he often does, rather than detailing other's work - but overall his presentation created a foundation for the rest of the day.

There was a flow from Dr. Katz talking about the big picture, to me bringing forward the large gap in services that is very common in domestic violence work - technology use. I provided information on the history of social media use, and how domestic violence agencies need to think of the internet as a community that needs to be coordinated. Social services has historically struggled with technology use, and when analyzing Twitter discussions of domestic violence and related issues, almost all content is focused on victims/survivors, and when abusers are a focus, it is mainly to decry the impact they have on families, and villainize their behavior. This creates great opportunity for programs to communicate the value in guiding abusers toward respect and health, as well as to humanize work in domestic violence overall.

I always encourage people to contact me for any assistance or questions about setting up or using social media to address domestic violence intervention, and I believe that as we move forward we need to be more conscious of both having a presence online to offer referrals and information to victims/survivors, and to consider how we engage abusers in entering into programs.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence sent Rachel Gibson  to speak to how abusers use technology to stalk, harass, and abuse their partners and families. NNEDV has been a pioneer in creating apps, videos, and tutorials on understanding security issues surrounding social media and technolgy, and Rachel did an excellent job giving an overview of several ways to be more aware of the risks. 

An example she brought forward included the EXIF (exchangeable image file format) geolocation data that is stored on photos taken with cellular phones. If a user does not know how to turn off this feature, any picture posted to the internet has data that indicates location coordinates. However, she also cautioned that some of the more common ways abusers might stalk would be to simply ask (or manipulate) children for locations. Sometimes it seems that someone is using technology, when in actuality, it is something much more simple - and it is important for safety reasons to understand both potential leaks of information.

Bryan Victor, a PhD student from Wayne State University in Detroit, went into further detail on sexting and dating violence - expanding on some of the information presented by Rachel previously. The phenomenon of digital cameras installed on cellular phones has over the past 10+ years created opportunity for teens and youth to pressure for nude photos. While often these photographs are most often acquired through consent (albeit with manipulation and coercion involved), they can easily be shared to others, over social media, or to pornographic sites which can harm someone in several ways. 

Often referred to as "revenge porn" where a perpetrator is intentionally sharing intimate images and/or videos with pornographic sites, there are efforts to instead re-frame the topic as "non-consensual image sharing" to better capture the broader scope of the use of someone's image in ways they do not want. This is a challenging topic on several levels, but with peer pressure and establishment of image and reputation being so valuable for teens, one site that can assist in discussing the topic with youth comes from the "That's Not Cool" dating violence intervention site. 

Shifting the discussion from technology (both its opportunities and its potential dangers), Debby Tucker opened the conference to talking about trauma informed considerations for interventions, particularly within the military community. She discussed much of the history behind work to end domestic violence as a whole, and I personally enjoyed her bringing forward that we need to stop using Lenore Walker's "Cycle of Violence" model. There have been efforts to educate the domestic violence community about how this educational tool is outdated, oversimplified, and problematic for several reasons - but in many ways Walker's work helped to move the military to understand and respond to victims/survivors in real ways. 

This is an important aspect I would like to spend a moment highlighting. I believe that we need to be aware of the fact that interventions in domestic violence are in their infancy. If you consider that most work began in the 1970s, and that legal/social responses did not become more prevalent until the mid-1990s, we have actively been working from frameworks that need to be analyzed and updated in order to move forward and evolve our work to increase safety and comfort for the victims and survivors we want to assist. These foundations have had important roles in our history, but we need to have the strength, courage, and fortitude to question ourselves and listen to those we serve (both victims/survivors and abusers).

Debby brought forward some differentiation between resistive, situational, pathological, antisocial, and battering violence - which could be a topic for an entire article all on its own, and is important to consider for all perpetrators of domestic violence. She highlighted some of the challenges within military responses to these varying kinds of violence and stressed the need to work to understand both the context and the intent behind violent behavior. This highlight is critical to working with military referrals who experience post traumatic brain disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Chris Huffine furthered the discussion of trauma informed care with abusers, and one of the first thing he worked to clarify is that trauma informed care is NOT trauma specific services. Working with domestic violence offenders is not therapy or a sort of counseling where a therapist is specifically working through trauma a patient experiences - domestic violence intervention (batterer intervention) when it is trauma informed, understands that abusers may have experiences which were traumatic for them, and by understanding that using that experience to generate both empathy for their partners, family, and themselves as well as understand the importance of self-care in being healthy and respectful. 

The part of Chris' presentation I was most appreciative of was his inclusion of the concept of cultural humility - the concept that it is most important to understand your own culture as deeply as possible, and from that work to not make assumptions about other's cultural experiences and backgrounds. If we worked more diligently to be introspective and reflective of our own experiences as interventionists, counselors, and educators - we may have more ability to be motivational and guide abusers to respectful and healthy alternatives. This standpoint emphasizes being WITH others rather than trying to understand them. In the case of trauma informed care - that approach is necessary if you are going to work to move people to end abusive, controlling, and violent behavior. Not to be with them in a collusive manner - but to be with them enough to understand methods of guidance and support that will work as a part of that change process.

Oliver Williams finished the day by again stressing the value of trauma informed care. He named some specific ways abusers might be drawn in to traumatic experiences as children, including violence among family or friends, bullying, neighborhood or community violence, and gang related violence. Oliver brought forward that some of the impacts of trauma might be a development of inappropriate or hurtful coping mechanisms which may grow into violence, abuse, control, and harm toward others and toward self. He discussed one man's story by showing a video and challenging BIP/DVIP work to expand out understanding in ways to offer guidance toward healthy self-care, counseling, and separate work from BIP/DVIP that may be necessary for victims of trauma.

Later that evening, we had an AQUILA meeting, an organizing branch of BISC-MI that involves planning and outreach. Much of the meeting was spent explaining the purpose and goals of AQUILA, which involve a combination of trying to get more people to understand the purpose and philosophy of domestic violence intervention (batterer intervention), and to combat some of the push back that has been occurring over the past several years by various research organizations to discredit the historical and current work to end domestic violence. In part, some of the major challenge with AQUILA has been in communication and ongoing motivation and connection. As I am personally a part of the steering committee and outreach subcommittee, I can understand some of the scheduling and problems in navigating my own busyness and the need to be involved in the process.

However, we have some possible solutions. We have begun to recognize that a listserv model of discussion has been cumbersome, at best, and that there is a need to develop systems of interaction that are not necessarily tied to a specific meeting time (either in person or by phone). With that in mind, I will be working on developing a discussion forum which can both be a hub for the overall organization of AQUILA committees, but also a place for discussions to take place in various categories. Currently, I administer the Facebook group which has several discussions and links to content and resources (an extensive file section) which in part has and will continue to serve as a parallel support to this work. I hope you consider joining us as we move forward.

(For links to conference materials, please click this link. Next article continues this discussion by highlighting more of the BISC-MI 2016 conference on day two.)