Partner Violence Screening Wendy A. Lutz, MSW Brenda A. Miller, Ph.D Center for Development of Human Services Spring 2002
Definition • Partner violence is a pattern of assault and controlling behavior perpetrated by one partner against another. • It can include: • Physical attacks. • Sexual attacks. • Psychological attacks.
Prevalence of Partner Violence • According to the National Crime Victimization Survey: • 7.7 incidents per 1000 women. • 1.5 incidents per 1000 men. • Among homeless it is estimated that 50% are fleeing abuse – this population is not captured in any major survey. • 37% of abused women require medical attention • 40% of abused women live in households with children under the age of 12.
Victim Characteristics • African/American women experienced 35% more violence than White women. • Women between the ages of 16-24 were victimized at the highest rate. • Women living in poverty were victimized 3 times more than women in the highest income range.
Victim Characteristics • It is important to note that there is no “profile” of a battered woman. • Partner violence cuts across all socioeconomic categories, ages and races.
Child Welfare/Partner Violence Connection • Perceptions divide the fields of partner violence and child abuse. • Current systems divide responses to each of these issues. • Integrating our response would be in the best interest of the family.
Child Welfare/Partner Violence Connection • Child abuse and partner violence co-occur at a rate of approximately 50%. • The most chronically violent husbands had a nearly 100% probability of physically abusing their male children.
Screening Considerations • The safety of the partner and the children is the primary consideration. • Screening should be done in private without children or partners in the room.
Screening Considerations • Brief enough to conduct in the context of the total interview. • Thorough enough to gather the appropriate information in order to make a fully informed referral if needed. • Instruments should require little or no training to administer.
Screening Considerations • Screening instruments should be easily scored. • Instruments should give clients an opportunity to disclose abuse beyond physical violence.
Child Welfare Considerations • A comprehensive assessment of domestic violence includes: • The indicators of danger • The impact of the domestic violence • The mother’s history of seeking help • The community’s (formal and informal) response
Screening Instruments • There are research-based instruments that can be 18 or more questions long. • One example is the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1996) • Although the CTS is very accurate and provides a wealth of information, it’s length makes it difficult to use in a child welfare interview.
Screening Instruments • Most short screen instruments have sprung from the medical field but can be used in child welfare. Short screens include: • American Medical Association – 10 questions1 • Partner Abuse Inventory (PAI)2 • Partner Violence Screen3 • Colorado BRFSS4
Barriers to Disclosing Partner Violence • Fear is the overriding barrier for most women • Cultural differences • Dependence on the abuser • Feelings of failure • Promises of change or hope from the abuser
Overcoming Barriers • Listen non-judgmentally • If appropriate, explain the cycle of violence • Ask the client what resources she may have available to her (friends, family, churches) • Be prepared with other resources • Discuss options for the woman’s and the children’s safety • Acknowledge the difficulty in disclosing
Recognizing and Treating • Alpert et al., 1998 uses the acronym RADAR to help professionals deal with domestic violence • Remember • Ask • Document • Assess • Review
Recognizing and Treating • Remember – to routinely ask clients about partner violence. • Ask – direct and specific questions • Document – effects on woman and/or children • Assess – the safety of the woman and children • Review – possible options with the woman
Conclusion • Partner violence is prevalent in many women’s lives. • There is a significant relationship between partner violence and child abuse and neglect. • By screening for partner violence in a child welfare setting, we can better protect parent and child and potentially, avoid further injury to the family.