(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!)
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.