Beyond Rope Ladders & Padlocks:
A New Approach to Safety Planning
Sherry Hamby & Sarah Clark
Sewanee, the University of th...
Common Instruments & Tools





This review focuses on published instruments
and tools.
You will see their content is r...
Existing Dangerousness Assessments:
Ask Only About Physical Harm


The most frequent topics covered by popular
dangerousn...
A Typical Safety Plan—
Nat’l Coalition Against Domestic Violence










If you are still in the relationship:
T...
…Focuses on leaving & physical safety













If you have left the relationship:
Change your phone number...
The State of Safety Planning




Bottom line: Many safety plans
devote more space to rope ladders and
padlocks than to p...
What Gets Left Out of
Existing Services?
Physical Risks Posed to Others


Concern for others can constrain coping:








Children
Family members
Friends—e...
Financial Risks




Financial dependence is often the most
commonly mentioned reason for staying
(e.g., Cruz, 2003).
Man...
Legal Risks










Dual arrests are on the rise
(Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002)
Arrest of batterer unlikely to lead
to ...
Social Risks


Stigma—Almost all of the social
statuses associated with leaving a
violent relationship are stigmatized:
...
Who Gets Left Out of Existing
Services?

12
Not all victims need shelters

Denise Richards

Brooke Mueller

Rihanna

Taylor Armstrong

Madonna

Phil Hartman

Tina Tur...
Not all victims are economically
disadvantaged or lacking housing


Celebrities obviously do not
represent the norm, but ...
The VIGOR: Multiple
Criteria Decision Making
for IPV
Types of Problems Addressed with
MCDM










Selecting routes for nuclear waste transport
(Chen, Wang, & Lin, 200...
What Do These Problems Have
in Common with Battering?







Multiple facets to the problem
“Success” can be evaluated...
Using MCDM Principles to Create the
VIGOR: Victim Inventory of Goals,
Options, & Risks






6 other experienced advoca...
Pilot Study: Risks, Strengths, Options
as Perceived by Victims of Battering









102 people (98% female) with hi...
Step 1: Identify Risks
60
53.4
50

47.6

46.6

44.7

40

27.2

30
20

27.2

Lose
custody

Family
rejection

16.5

10
0
Fea...
Step 2: Identify Strengths
60

54.4
48.5

50

45.6
41.7

41.7

40.8

39.8

Have
friends

Shelter

Personal
Strength

Have ...
Step 3: Identify Options
60
50
40
30
20

49

47.1
37.3

35.3

31.4

31.4

30.4

29.4

25.5

23.5

19.6

18.6

10
0

22
Novel Options
Reported by single or few respondents
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

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



Increase internet security
(myspace, facebook, email)...
Step 4: Make Choices Based on
Risk Priorities & Options






In MCDM, an option has “strict dominance” if it is
better...
Conclusion








Can improve our response to the most disadvantaged
women as help them address multiple needs.
Victi...
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Beyond rope-ladders padlocks-unh-2011

  1. 1. Beyond Rope Ladders & Padlocks: A New Approach to Safety Planning Sherry Hamby & Sarah Clark Sewanee, the University of the South Presented at the Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence: Innovations in Practice & Research Conference, Portsmouth, NH, November, 2011 sherry.hamby@sewanee.edu
  2. 2. Common Instruments & Tools    This review focuses on published instruments and tools. You will see their content is rather narrow. Although many advocates do address these risks, they do so largely without guidance from published documents or the nation’s premier resources on domestic violence.
  3. 3. Existing Dangerousness Assessments: Ask Only About Physical Harm  The most frequent topics covered by popular dangerousness/lethality assessment tools are (Laing, 2004; Websdale, 2000) :          prior victimization; batterer’s drug & alcohol problems; batterer’s obsessiveness & jealousy; batterer’s threats to kill the victim or her children; batterer access to & familiarity with weapons; batterer’s violence outside the home; stalking; batterer’s suicidal ideation & behavior; partners are separated, or victim is fleeing. 3
  4. 4. A Typical Safety Plan— Nat’l Coalition Against Domestic Violence         If you are still in the relationship: Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen). Think about and make a list of safe people to contact. Keep change with you at all times. Memorize all important numbers. Establish a "code word" or "sign" so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help. Think about what you will say to your partner if heshe becomes violent. Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence. 4
  5. 5. …Focuses on leaving & physical safety             If you have left the relationship: Change your phone number. Screen calls. Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer. Change locks, if the batterer has a key. Avoid staying alone. Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner. If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place. Vary your routine. Notify school and work contacts. Call a shelter for battered women. If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. 5
  6. 6. The State of Safety Planning   Bottom line: Many safety plans devote more space to rope ladders and padlocks than to providing guidance on dealing with the financial, legal, and social risks faced by virtually all battered women. In addition to leaving advocates to figure out how to do this on their own, one at a time, over and over again, what other consequences does this narrow focus have? 6
  7. 7. What Gets Left Out of Existing Services?
  8. 8. Physical Risks Posed to Others  Concern for others can constrain coping:       Children Family members Friends—especially those who offer shelter Pets Others, such as coworkers, advocates, etc. Ex: Across 6 studies, 48% of women in shelters reported their pets had been harmed, 45% said they had been threatened, and 26% said the welfare of their pets delayed their decision to leave (Hamby, in preparation). 8
  9. 9. Financial Risks   Financial dependence is often the most commonly mentioned reason for staying (e.g., Cruz, 2003). Many areas of potential loss:         Lower standard of living Loss of savings Cannot afford neighborhoods with low crime or good schools Would have to drop out of own schooling Job loss Loss of health insurance Loss of car/transportation Doesn’t have security deposit, rent, furniture for even a terrible 9 apartment in a terrible neighborhood.
  10. 10. Legal Risks       Dual arrests are on the rise (Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002) Arrest of batterer unlikely to lead to jail time—will be back home & madder than ever If disclose abuse to authorities, may be reported to CPS for “exposing” children to dv D-I-V-O-R-C-E risks Risks losing custody of children Risks unfair divorce settlement 10
  11. 11. Social Risks  Stigma—Almost all of the social statuses associated with leaving a violent relationship are stigmatized:       “victim” “divorced” “single mother” Loss of friendships, extended family, support of minister/congregants Children’s loss of friends, schools, sports May stigmatize entire family in 11
  12. 12. Who Gets Left Out of Existing Services? 12
  13. 13. Not all victims need shelters Denise Richards Brooke Mueller Rihanna Taylor Armstrong Madonna Phil Hartman Tina Turner 13
  14. 14. Not all victims are economically disadvantaged or lacking housing  Celebrities obviously do not represent the norm, but they will have to stand in for all the unknown lawyers, accountants, physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, teachers, computer technicians, journalists, artists, physical therapists, veterinarians, and all of the other women who don’t fit the stereotype of “battered woman.” 14
  15. 15. The VIGOR: Multiple Criteria Decision Making for IPV
  16. 16. Types of Problems Addressed with MCDM       Selecting routes for nuclear waste transport (Chen, Wang, & Lin, 2008). Promoting recycling (Gomes et al., 2008) Understanding stock trading (Albadvi et al., 2007) Deciding best locations for emergency vehicles (Araz et al., 2007) Understanding “medical tourism”—when people will decide to have surgery abroad (Bies & Zacharia, 2007) …and dozens of other applications in environmental sciences, engineering, agriculture, and finance 16 (Hajkowicz, 2008)
  17. 17. What Do These Problems Have in Common with Battering?     Multiple facets to the problem “Success” can be evaluated on multiple criteria Not all criteria easily evaluated with dollars or some other uniform metric—involve value judgements (originally developed as an alternative to cost-benefit analysis). Multiple options to choose from, and these options vary in how well they meet different criteria. 17
  18. 18. Using MCDM Principles to Create the VIGOR: Victim Inventory of Goals, Options, & Risks    6 other experienced advocates reviewed the VIGOR and provided extensive feedback, paid $100 honorarium. Pilot study with over 100 individuals who have been victims of battering Students in an undergraduate research seminar helped further streamline and simplify the wording. 18
  19. 19. Pilot Study: Risks, Strengths, Options as Perceived by Victims of Battering       102 people (98% female) with histories of intimate partner victimization were recruited from 2 domestic violence programs (1 shelter, 1 support group) in 2 Southern states. Wide age range: 28% 18-25, 25% 26-30, 27% 31-40, 20% 41+ Ethnically and racially diverse: African-American (54%), White/Caucasian (26%), Hispanic (11%), Native American (9%), and other (1%). 58% reported income < $12,000 per year. Most had children (91%), mean 2.14 children per participant. They provided their perceptions of their risks and resources in a semistructured format. Responses were coded using a boot-strapping method and analyzed. Participants were given a $25 gift card to thank them for their participation. DV agencies were paid $25 per interview to compensate them for staff time. 19
  20. 20. Step 1: Identify Risks 60 53.4 50 47.6 46.6 44.7 40 27.2 30 20 27.2 Lose custody Family rejection 16.5 10 0 Fear of Fear partner Financially Concern for Lack Social physical will murder insecure children* Support harm to self them *Concern for children includes concern for their physical, emotional, and social well-being 20
  21. 21. Step 2: Identify Strengths 60 54.4 48.5 50 45.6 41.7 41.7 40.8 39.8 Have friends Shelter Personal Strength Have a job 40 30 20 10 0 Family support Church Religious Community faith *Personal strength refers to a sense of being capable and having the ability to persevere. 21
  22. 22. Step 3: Identify Options 60 50 40 30 20 49 47.1 37.3 35.3 31.4 31.4 30.4 29.4 25.5 23.5 19.6 18.6 10 0 22
  23. 23. Novel Options Reported by single or few respondents        Increase internet security (myspace, facebook, email) Get a dog Apply for a gun permit Sleep with a knife under pillow Find new friends/confidants Exercise Change locks (5%)
  24. 24. Step 4: Make Choices Based on Risk Priorities & Options    In MCDM, an option has “strict dominance” if it is better than others on some criteria, and at least as good on all others. The result: NOT a generic checklist of safety precautions, BUT a personalized plan that links coping responses to specific risks. Fleeing on an emergency basis with few belongings and possibly not even with your children, will not minimize many risks faced by 24 typical battered women.
  25. 25. Conclusion     Can improve our response to the most disadvantaged women as help them address multiple needs. Victims who are seen as poor copers or in “denial” may be prioritizing other risks. Holistic advocacy, using MCDM, has the potential to considerably broaden the population that seeks help from domestic violence advocates, as many perceive advocacy is primarily about free shelter. Next steps: Further testing of revised version (Beta 11.0!) with traditional dv agency clients and also hope to evaluate with less disadvantaged women. 25
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