Rethinking Protection with Survivors of Domestic Violence
What does it mean to protect children in families in which domestic violence is occurring?
Both communities and systems can adopt ways of working that keep children safer.
Lessen the burdens and stress on families that can lead to violence.
Respond to crises with sustainable, safety-enhancing resources and supports (change locks, provide a phone, ensure safe storage of guns, etc.).
Provide access to real help (e.g., mental health supports, housing, child care, cultural healing practices, wellness resources, etc.) and eliminate barriers to access.
Design programs, systems, and practices to support healing – enhance safety, belonging, connection, help people find purpose, and so on.
Protection is never one-size-fits-all, and often child welfare is not where it occurs. Protection can look like:
- Families holding people who use violence accountable
- Systems eliminating institutional racism and gender biases
- Child welfare avoiding disruption of critical familial and cultural bonds that help children to heal
- Communities building capacity to keep survivors of domestic violence from becoming involved in child welfare in the first place.
At least two strategies are needed for the next generation of this work
Double down on improving experiences and outcomes of survivors within child welfare
Provide more of what survivors say helps, and end practices that traumatize children and adults who have already been harmed. Treat survivors with respect and compassion, build trust, and offer real help and concrete resources. Hold the abusive partner responsible for violence while helping them to change. When survivors and families don’t get that kind of response, systems need to be accountable for doing better.
Create and fund community-driven avenues to resources and help without involving child welfare
Child and adult survivors are safer with access to stable housing, flexible child care, education. and employment opportunities. Confidential and culturally-specific services, immigration and other legal advocacy, and flexible funds are critical to meet unique needs. Expand opportunities for survivors and families to connect to people who provide emotional, cultural, material, and spiritual support.
We’re re-thinking and re-imagining protection so that all survivors of domestic violence can get what they need to heal. We can do more, and do better, to interrupt intergenerational transmission of family violence, trauma, and system involvement.
Bold leaders, thinkers, advocates, and activists – join us!