Building a connection to the network
You can help protect children from violence by involving a safety and support network that includes family, friends, community members and other professionals working with the family.
The network will be made of people who care about the child and are willing to work as a network. These people can help hold men accountable for violence while ensuring mothers and children feel connected to others. Do not underestimate the impact social responses to violence from extended family and community can have.
A mother may not have a safety and support network due to the father’s coercive and controlling behaviour that isolates her. Consider carefully who is included in the safety planning because fathers’ often utilise paternal family members to perpetrate violence against the mother and children
Keep the following points in mind:
The family and network are likely to need your support to understand the patterns and dynamics of domestic violence. You must also teach them how best to respond to the father, and to the mother and children. The man may try to control the involvement of other people, so you must give those important people in a child’s and mother’s life the skills to see and challenge tactics of control.
Domestic violence is often a secret. This can be an intentional tactic of the father. Mothers and children may remain silent about the violence, because they are scared to talk or ashamed to have others know what is really happening in the home.
As a result, the way that you bring safe people in and around the family is very important. You will need to explore with the mother how you can involve safe people without making her or the children unsafe. Use the Circles of Safety and Support, support, a genogram or an eco-map to explore who her allies are now and who could be in the future. Talk about how these people can be of use to her and the children.
Talk about safe people and allies with the mother, the father, and the children. These conversations may need to take place separately so the mother and children feel able to openly share their views.
There may be people who are not safe in the family’s community. It is important to build a full picture about who is in the family’s life and their broader community. This includes those people who may not be safe, who may reinforce the father’s violence or who could cause problems for the family.
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