Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel

Season 2 Episode 14: How to perpetrator proof custody & access processes

August 16, 2021 Ruth Stearns Mandel & David Mandel Season 2 Episode 14
Partnered with a Survivor: David Mandel and Ruth Reymundo Mandel
Season 2 Episode 14: How to perpetrator proof custody & access processes
Show Notes Transcript

Building on the Safe & Together Institute's white paper on perpetrators' manipulate of systems (and the related podcast) and work with the national Family Court of Australia, David & Ruth take a closer look at how domestic violence perpetrators can continue to undermine child safety and well-being post-separation, manipulate systems regarding custody and access issues, and how they target professionals in order to extend their coercive control after a relationship has ended. 

In this episode, Ruth & David  talk about: 

  •  How professionals can properly identify and assess coercive control in the context of custody and access matters 
  • How professionals can use a behavioral lens to identify how systems and professionals are targeted, post separation,  by parents who choose coercive control   
  • How to inoculate yourself, as practitioner, against these behaviors
  • How, by using a collaborative parenting standard as a lens for identifying the risks and harms created by domestic violence perpetrators, systems can  increase accountability in custody and access situations
  • How understanding patterns of pre- and post separation coercive control and actions taken to harm the children is essential for understanding,  contextualizing, and validating the protective parents' behaviors 
  • How acknowledging differing cultural expectations of men and women as parents is essential to  assessing child safety and well-being in the context of post separation coercive control

Essential listening for anyone who is interested in child safety and well-being in the context of post separation coercive control, their discussion includes practical steps and has implications for women sector workers and advocates, legal practitioners, child protection, family court, children's advocates, mental health practitioners and others. David & Ruth also hope that survivors can use this information to educate professionals who work with them.

Related podcasts
Season 2 Episode 12: How coercive control harms child safety & wellbeing: An interview with researcher Dr. Emma Katz

Season 2, Episode 5: How professionals can avoid being manipulated by perpetrators

Season 2, Episode 1: 6 Steps to Partnering with Survivors

Episode 29: Family courts are failing the “best interests” of adult and chil

Now available! Mapping the Perpetrator’s Pattern: A Practitioner’s Tool for Improving Assessment, Intervention, and Outcomes The web-based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool is a virtual practice tool for improving assessment, intervention, and outcomes through a perpetrator pattern-based approach. The tool allows practitioners to apply the Model’s critical concepts and principles to their current case load in real

Speaker 1: [00:00:15] And we're back and we're back. Look at us. We're back after like a month hiatus.  [00:00:20][4.9]

Speaker 2: [00:00:22] Boy, we've been so busy.  [00:00:23][1.1]

Speaker 1: [00:00:23] Yeah, so busy. And some interviews have fallen through and we're just getting back in the saddle here. But welcome to partner with Survivor. And I'm David Mandel, executive director of the Safe and Together Institute,  [00:00:36][12.5]

Speaker 2: [00:00:37] and I'm Ruth Stearns, Mandel and E-learning Strategic Manager, Communications. I don't know, titles.  [00:00:44][7.7]

Speaker 1: [00:00:45] And today is your birthday. We're connected to me. We're recording this on your birthday. I asked you what you wanted to do on your birthday and you said, Record a podcast. There we go. And so we're recording a podcast and we're we're joining you from beautiful tongues. This land in the East Coast, United States, the traditional owners of the land here have been the Texas people who are part of the larger Algonquin Nation. And we just want to acknowledge indigenous First Nation people all over the world who may be joining us and elders past president emerging, who may be just listening in from wherever you are.  [00:01:24][38.9]

Speaker 2: [00:01:25] And it's raining  [00:01:25][0.3]

Speaker 1: [00:01:26] and it's raining here, which is good, you know? Yes, we need the rain, my plants  [00:01:29][3.6]

Speaker 2: [00:01:30] that  [00:01:30][0.0]

Speaker 1: [00:01:30] we need the rain, and we also want to send a shout out to our, our friends, colleagues, families everywhere all over the world as the Delta variant surges and there's lockdowns in Australia. Yeah. And we just wanted to send love and good feelings out to everybody and safety and protection.  [00:01:51][20.8]

Speaker 2: [00:01:52] Yes, and connection that connection. So awareness of our connectedness and our interdependence.  [00:01:58][6.4]

Speaker 1: [00:01:59] That's right. So anyway, so so we're back here. This is a podcast about all things domestic violence. And if you're joining us for the first time, thank you for joining us. And if you're returning, thank you for coming back and and we talk about the safe and together model we interview, folks. We have taken the last year and a half and sharing thoughts and conversations Ruth and I have personally and then bringing them out into the into the podcast environment. And I hope you've been enjoying the show. Today's show is not an interview show,  [00:02:32][32.2]

Speaker 2: [00:02:32] not an interview show.  [00:02:33][0.9]

Speaker 1: [00:02:34] Today is a conversation between you and I about shifting systems to make them more perpetrator proof against system manipulation. And I'm super excited because, you know, still, you came to me a few months ago to start listing all the things that domestic violence perpetrators do to manipulate systems and and in that really kind of brought that element to the forefront in our work. And I think it's so important. And we're seeing that reflected. I'm not saying it's because of our work, but you know, you're seeing series like the trap covers by Jess Hill in Australia. You know, a lot of people are talking about systems manipulation. I think it's the next stage and what we have to talk about.  [00:03:16][42.4]

Speaker 2: [00:03:17] Yeah, I think it's a good evolution in the domestic violence field to stop focusing on the individual right, to stop focusing on the individual family and start focusing on our collective responses, our failures in supporting survivors and holding those persons who are choosing violence behaviorally accountable. You know, you can't expect that an individual is going to respond to that level of harm and trauma when nobody around them is supporting them properly, right, including their friends and family, religious leaders, advocates, family court, whatever it is, if everybody is adversarial to them and incapable of understanding that the danger and harm is caused by one singular person, right? The person who's choosing to be violent to their family and destroy their family unit that is hell bent on the destruction of their family unit via violence and control, then we can't truly move forward. In practice, we have to really understand the ecosystems around survivors and how we are helping in concrete ways that the survivor says helps them the that that the survivor reports that as being helpful or not,  [00:04:45][87.9]

Speaker 1: [00:04:46] and it's in, it's really consistent with what we know about trauma and and how people who are violated, who are harmed, who are injured by the choice of a person, how they heal, how they respond, how they internalize or not. The experience has so much to do with how the people around them respond,  [00:05:11][24.5]

Speaker 2: [00:05:12] acknowledge,  [00:05:12][0.0]

Speaker 1: [00:05:13] acknowledge or. I blame that person for what happened to them that so much of the what we think about is trauma. Yeah, we think about as being about what that one incident or what happened to them, what was done to them. And it's so much really about how people who they hold accountable, right? How they talk to the trauma survivor, how they talk to the person who's choosing violence or abuse. Right? You know what's acknowledged as being real and valid. And and and and then how it how do we hold that person? How do we partner with them? That's why that language is in the model. How do we partner with that person? And how do we intervene with that person who chooses abuse and violence in ways that are just common sense, real, compassionate, but acknowledge that that that these these patterns or of course, control are real? Right. And and and to recognize how they they get directed at systems and our systems become. Targeted professionals get targeted by people who choose coercive control and that professionals and systems have choices about how they respond to those manipulations they do. And today we're not. We're going to focus on issues around cost and access. Yeah, we sure are. And we're hoping to do kind of occasional other episodes, other systems, whether it's law enforcement or whether it's child protection. And none of these systems, if you've been listening to shows before siloed and they all interact and they all matter. So we're going to be talking about addiction, mental health fields today. But but the primary focus here is is is going to be on on custody and access in kids in the context, of course, control. And and this is about. Patterns of behavior, just like whenever we talk about this issue and about child safety and child best interests. Right? You know, and sort of how do you create systems that protect children's safety and well-being from? The harm caused by a parent who's engaging, of course, control in the context of cost and access.  [00:07:37][144.4]

Speaker 2: [00:07:38] Right. And so we're going to we're going to use the rubric identifying, assessing and inoculating. So we're going to go through those to really sort of categorize the behaviors that a professional would engage in, which would allow for them to perpetrate or proof their practice. In a sense, you know, nothing is ever going to be 100 percent. Our practice is never going to be 100 percent, but we definitely can can start to strive for much better measures of success than what has been in the industry so far. And we really want the preponderance of our actions to benefit children and an adult survivors and bring about that safety, stability, self-determination and satisfaction that we always talk about in the safe and together model. Because those are markers for whether or not we have served that survivor properly and that comes from the reporting of survivors and their children themselves. We are really trying to tie this practice back to concrete markers and concrete outcomes for adult and child survivors.  [00:08:52][73.9]

Speaker 1: [00:08:54] So I want to start with so to frame that sort of that that rubric you later identify, assess and inoculate. I want to I want to kind of lay the groundwork a little bit, which is that when you look at issues of custody and access in in in in separation, divorce, obviously no matter, almost all these situations are difficult. You know, they're challenging the hard without it, without abuse. They're messy. And and there's a general idea, and it's backed up in my mind by the literature that that when possible. Collaborative post-separation parenting is in the best interests of the kids, right, and I want to really I think it's so important to anchor this entire conversation in that right, that collaborative post-separation parenting right when it's possible. Is in the best interest of the kids.  [00:09:54][59.9]

Speaker 2: [00:09:55] Well, the problem is that so far, the measure of collaborative co-parenting has been measures that have been set by the court. Divorced from the reality of domestic abuse and that they have behaved as if a criminal abuser can be a collaborative co-parent. Well.  [00:10:14][19.2]

Speaker 1: [00:10:15] And this is where it's so important here, right? So this is we're right into it and you're if you listen to Ruth and I go back and forth about this is so, so important that really to then look at. Then coercive controlling behavior is coercive control, not just physical violence. Right? And look at those patterns of behavior and the harm that those behaviors do to child functioning, the functioning of the other parent. Right. And and to measure those against how well does this stack up against this gold standard of collaborative parenting behavior? Right. And and and to really articulate how much when somebody is choosing to act in a way that's coercively controlling, has a pattern of behavior and is engaged in over time and that it escalates in a particular way or manifests in a particular way in a post-separation period. Whether it's an escalation of physical violence, what's an escalation of manipulation or whether it's targeting of the courts or child protection or the criminal justice system to use them to their side and advantage right  [00:11:25][70.2]

Speaker 2: [00:11:25] to use them to increase their power and control?  [00:11:27][2.0]

Speaker 1: [00:11:28] That's right. Right. That is has to be framed, in my view, as the antithesis of collaborative parenting. Right. And in that that we have to then understand that the parent who then is is is pointing that out is identifying it as saying, I'm concerned my kids are going to be harmed, that they're engaging in protective effort and that their their efforts are are are in alignment with the with the mandates that we expect from from government, which is child safety. You know, though, the a lot of our systems have a very specific mandate. Family courts often have this, not always that that child safety is is critical or important or primary. And I think that it's it's you know that if we're really using this sort of vision, of course, control as being the antithesis of collaborative parenting, right? There are those behaviors that we have to really engage that that conversation if we're committed to child safety.  [00:12:34][65.9]

Speaker 2: [00:12:34] So how do you identify? How do you identify in the in the in the context of custody and access what classically has been termed within the Family Court high conflict cases with a lot of counter allegations typically, right? You know, a lot of back and forth sort of warfare via the lawyers in the court about, you know, claims about character and and actions taken, which the other parent, you know, says are dangerous or they object to. How do you identify?  [00:13:11][36.9]

Speaker 1: [00:13:12] I think I think one of the first things you do is you accept that that you're looking to assess not just physical violence, not just risk of physical violence to to one of the parents from the other. That that's a very narrow definition of domestic violence that you actually have to use this, this sort of. Concept, you know, that that's been there from the beginning of looking at domestic violence has been made popular and clear by Dr. Evan Stark and then other people, which is coercive control. Hey, which may not manifest at all physical violence and that you look for patterns of behaviors that have caused negative impact to child partner and family functioning right over time. So not just in the last six months, but over the course of the relationship. You look at it beyond this relationship because somebody may be engages behaviors in other relationships or with other kids. Mm hmm. And that you trust in that environment where there can be cross allegations that you using that led behavioral lens, you asked the question. And this has been true about the model since its inception that that when I train people and say to them. Mm hmm. They'll say, well, both have been arrested or both people are saying the other one's violent or they're both abusers. What I say? Tell me about each person's pattern, of course. Control and actions they've taken to harm the kids. Right. That's all we've got at the end of the day because domestic violence is a behaviorally based problem, right? The fact that we have to ask these questions. But the trick really to make it successful is you can't just look at arrests. You can't just look at physical violence, right? You have to look at this wider pattern of coercive control. And then you have to be able to tell the story in this family about the harm that those behaviors have created to child and family functioning. Because because it the harm isn't always the same. And in fact, you can have tremendous harm created in different circumstances.  [00:15:12][120.1]

Speaker 2: [00:15:13] So let's give some people behavioral examples because not everybody listening to this podcast will have listened to the other ones. So let's give a behavioral example in custody and access that you've seen over and over again about a abusers pattern of behavior, both of coercive control towards the adult survivor, harm to the family unit and manipulation of systems.  [00:15:38][24.5]

Speaker 1: [00:15:38] So I want to start with something, really comment really basic, and I think that's something that people don't think about very often. If you leave me, I won't give you a penny for the kids, right?  [00:15:48][9.8]

Speaker 2: [00:15:49] Financial abuse?  [00:15:49][0.6]

Speaker 1: [00:15:50] Well, let's have a caller financial abuse. This is what I want to. I want to strip the jargon away for a bit and then come back to other behaviors, then go back to what it means. Right? Go back to that. Right? You know, be able to see it means you can identify our being right. Being able to see it means you can assess the harm. Being able to see it means you can inoculate yourself against the manipulation. Right. So I want you to think about any parent. Who's legally responsible for their children, who loves their children? That they're saying I'm willing to withhold money from my kids, I'm willing to not fulfill my responsibilities for my children to punish you.  [00:16:30][40.3]

Speaker 2: [00:16:32] Right, for you, leaving me  [00:16:33][1.3]

Speaker 1: [00:16:33] for you, exercising your legal right to lead a separate free association, I've been using this phrase more recently. We believe in the right of free association. Free association means I can be with the people I want to be with. I can spend time with them, right? Whether it's a friend, whether it's my family, whether I want to and I want to disentangle myself. Hmm. You know that that that's a standard in most disassociating  [00:16:58][25.0]

Speaker 2: [00:16:59] relationships safely is a fundamental  [00:17:00][1.4]

Speaker 1: [00:17:01] right. That's right. And so this idea that I I am going to threaten to punish my own children, my children. Right. And so this is where you start to imagine.  [00:17:11][10.2]

Speaker 2: [00:17:12] And I want people to stop and think about it.  [00:17:14][1.5]

Speaker 1: [00:17:14] That's right. It's so simple. It's so common. But I want that's what what we have to think about this and really kind of get it because I think we'll we'll often think about this through, well, people are angry. People say things that are hurtful. And yes, we want them.  [00:17:27][12.7]

Speaker 2: [00:17:27] And once you're willing to deny your children financial support because you're angry that somebody left you, you're an abuse, you're an abuser. Well, but  [00:17:36][8.6]

Speaker 1: [00:17:36] but even then, let's, you know, if we make room for people being upset at times. But but then we we embedded in a pattern, right? You know, of willingness and ability and showing and doing it and following through with that. And I think it's just sort of this this I imagine saying that to your child, right? Mommy, mommy's leaving daddy or daddy's living mommy, whatever it is. And and because I'm so angry at, you know, daddy are saying, Hey, mommy, I'm not going to give you any money for your food. I'm not going to help pay for, you know, where you're living. I'm not going to pay for your schoolbooks. I'm not going to pay for your university. I'm not going to pay for your health care, right? I'm not going to take care of you because I'm so angry and I want to make you know that other person pay for hurting me, right? I mean, if you stop and break it down to that level, right?  [00:18:28][51.9]

Speaker 2: [00:18:29] There's a lot of acceptance, right of post-separation coercive controlling behavior, both in the courts and by society. I mean, so many people believe that somehow it's justifiable if one partner leaves another for there to be abusive. And harassing and retributive behavior, right? Because we have told this story that once you're married, you're owned by another person and you're going to stay with them for the rest of your life till you die or tell that person kills you. In the case of domestic violence. So. We really have to shift our thinking culturally. That the health of relationships is contingent upon the behaviors of the two people living in that relationship. And if that relationship is abusive or mount nourishing, all of us have the right to live safely and without harm. All of us have the right to lead right.  [00:19:31][61.8]

Speaker 1: [00:19:31] And I think if we again, if we frame up back to the needs of the children of the safety of the children, I think part of what I've seen is is conversations about cuts in access that include a very important part, which is about risk of escalating violence. Like we need to include that discussion about right. In this context, since we know that separation can be really dangerous and the escalation of lethal and in fact, sometimes separation. Gets associated with lethal violence when there's been no physical violence. So that's so important, but we can't let that conversation about that risk crowd out there, really a central story, which is can we talk about this gets a little bit too assessment. It covers identification assessment. Can we really talk about how the domestic abuse perpetrator behavior has harmed the children and might harm them in the future? Right. And I think I think that a lot of times we're still struggling in these questions about custody access, just like we've had in child protection, which is seeing the the domestic abuse issue as a relationship based issue that ends with the separation physically or legally of the couple. And that's absolutely that. That is absolutely incorrect as an assumption. It may change the dynamic and may make it worse. Yeah, it may make it better like but to assume that it's no longer a child safety issue or an issue relevant to the court. Right. You know, when you're looking at Family Court decisions, is is is is is very not only potentially dangerous at a level of lethality dangerousness, but dangerous to making good decisions. And and one of the things, though, that I think is so important we're looking at assessing is is and then inoculate yourself is really understanding particularly what the pattern or behaviors that somebody may engage in post-separation involving or being targeted at. Courts or other systems? Right. And I think again, you know, when we're looking at factors to consider that that has to be explicit to a lot of these things. When I think about this at this point to think about these kind of eight things like that, I don't mean to make a you're getting a lot of lists today. You know, we talked about three rubric of identify, assess and inoculate and and ah, but talk about these, these these eight things. But sort of we need to be able to talk about violence and abuse. You're right. We need about talk about coercive control. We need to be able to talk about has this person who is, are we looking for somebody involvement in markers? Did they get arrested? Have they had orders of protection against them? You know, they've been, you know, the target of a child protection case. Right. We need to look at sort of this this idea of dynamic factors around post-separation behaviors and targeting the courts as another factor.  [00:22:30][178.9]

Speaker 2: [00:22:31] And when we say targeting the courts, we we mean really specific things. We mean using the courts as a tool of terror. Right. In post-separation coercive control to bludgeon a co-parent into complying with with things that that co-parent really doesn't need to comply with, but that the person who's choosing to use that system wants to force them into a position of of being subjected to their power and control, which is not much of a change from when they were together anyway. And in the end, it's an incredibly traumatic. When you leave a situation where you've been experiencing coercive control and domestic abuse to have the official system right? Behave in a way that supports that perpetration is really it's a mind bender, it's a mind bender and it's incredibly traumatic. It's incredibly traumatic.  [00:23:38][66.8]

Speaker 1: [00:23:38] And this is where other systems quickly get involved. So I've kind of partway through the list here. You know, we're kind of taking a pause here now or thinking positive about four of the four of the eight things. But it's but I think you're you're you're right, but it's this is where you know you want to start thinking about other systems, which is I'm going to call child protection on you. So there's a case against you that I can then bring as evidence into Family Court. I'm going to make false allegations in that in that core. And there was a 2005 Canadian study that showed that that was those kind of false allegations in child protection were primarily made by non-custodial parents. Right, OK. Against custodial parents. Right. You know, these are things that were were deemed to be fabricated for the purpose of manipulating system verses for her versus a genuine concern that wasn't kind of borne out. Right. But but but for that kind of thing and then and then you can think about taking somebody who is sought out mental health or addiction help and then using that right to to paint them summarily as being a bad parent, right or not or not capable.  [00:24:47][68.7]

Speaker 2: [00:24:47] And a lot of times that mental health and addiction help arises in the context of domestic abuse.  [00:24:53][5.1]

Speaker 1: [00:24:53] Well, we know that that was cause the more you're more likely to be needing those services if you've been a victim of abuse. Right? And so the the thing I like to say is is a lot of times these things that are going on with that domestic violence survivor. Systems participate in contextualizing them from the pattern of abuse and the harm caused by that person choosing violence. And so one of the ways now we're jumping to the limit to the end. One of the ways you inoculate yourself against being manipulated by by. Domestic abuse perpetrators in the context of custody and access is that you really understand and keep recontextualizing what's going on. Right to the history and pattern abuse, it's not history, even if it's separate and just was presented the case that that that was the couple have been separated for eight years, multiple years. And while there hadn't been any physical violence, there was ongoing, ongoing manipulation of systems and and that had been invisible until very recently. And then using the mapping tool in a really dedicated professional, you know that that it led to protection of the kids through a reversal of orders because without the context, the victim parent was looking poorly. Right? But once you put it back in context, what was looking as as poor behavior starts to look more rational starts to look protective. And this is why, for me, so much of this conversation about. Refusal and resistance, you know, and Family Court is has to really live inside this conversation about first. Are you doing a good job as your court system do a good job comparing the behaviors of domestic abuse perpetrators against this gold standard of collaborative parenting? Right. And doing a thorough assessment of the pattern of behavior and the harm it's created for a child partner and family functioning. So it's like a broken record after have you been listening? You hear me say this over and over and over again, but we see that we see the impact it's having. I guess,  [00:27:01][127.8]

Speaker 2: [00:27:01] I guess I can't. My cranky survivors coming up. The only thing that I see is that the court itself benefits from endless litigation that is brought forward by domestic violence perpetrators who are trying to enact coercive control. You know, lawyers benefit from it. The court benefits from it monetarily. So how exactly are we going to be able to to try to break that cycle of?  [00:27:33][32.0]

Speaker 1: [00:27:34] I think I think it's I think it's it's unfair to refer the court monolithically because you already named your name lawyers you named. And I think it's important to break down.  [00:27:44][10.1]

Speaker 2: [00:27:45] Well, I think that the difference, I think the ethical standards probably need to be raised right in the case of of, you know, lawyers dealing with family law that currently there is no mandate that that lawyers who are engaged with custody and access learn about domestic violence, even identify domestic violence, that they are not mandated to look and see if the behaviors and actions of the person who is paying them right to harass their victims. They have no skin in the game. And so I think that, you know, if we are going to have this conversation about perpetrator proofing your practice, we are kind of relying on the goodwill and and humanity of those engaged in the court and assuming that they're willing to look at these things, but there is no mandate to do so.  [00:28:42][56.7]

Speaker 1: [00:28:42] Well, I think again, you have you are very you have a number of different parties who may be involved. You have you may have corporate evaluators, you may have, you may have attorneys again. And some of these in some of these families, a lot of these cases, the parents are representing themselves with private attorneys involved. Right. You know, you've got the, you know, lawyers who work for the courts, you've got the judge and magistrates themselves. And and and and those systems the government systems are offering to looking to reduce the usage of the system actually right because they've got a volume and a capacity issue almost in every court I know of. Right. They're actually they actually are. One of the challenges that they're trying to figure out which which case they put the most attention to. And then there they every lawyer, every judge I've talked to, particularly judges I've spoken to, they want better quality information, right? They want better argued cases. The more this is clearer. I haven't run into a judge who says, I want less information, they want better information and they want and they want quality information. And so the model, you know, we talk about a perpetrator pattern based approach. You know, we lawyers and judges really like it because it moves things from generalities to specifics or things, you know, that allows them to better, you know, interrogate the evidence, ask questions of it. Is this is this valid? And and so moving this conversation to behavioral patterns, to moving it to this question of harm, you know, which is more likely to be documented, more likely to be identifiable, right? You know, and and measuring it against this kind of collaborative standard of this doesn't fit. In fact, if you show up my core and you're saying that your client is going to show up because I think we need more of this kind of attitude. Right? You know, if you're going to show up in the court and your client who's got a documented history of domestic violence because this person has been arrested because their crime of course, involved because there's an order of protection against them that's being grabbed by another card, maybe by me, that if your client doesn't come in and acknowledge what they've done, the harm it's done and that they're not actively trying to repair it right, then you're not going to win, quote unquote on the cost and access side because this is harmful Typekit and that's what we need as a standard of behavior.  [00:31:06][143.8]

Speaker 2: [00:31:07] I mean, I think about I think about what you said in one of I don't know if it was on one of the podcasts or if it was just in passing in one of our conversations. But if there was an addiction issue in front of the court in in in the context of custody and access. Right, right. And that person went to an addiction program but never admitted they had an addiction, never engaged in any type of behavioral change. Or showed any progress or remorse or willingness to change. The person in charge of that program would go before the judge with documentation and state that and that would be a matter that would be material to that custody and access may. Why is it in domestic abuse cases? People can go to behavior change programs, never admit what they did. Never acknowledge it, and we say, oh, it's because they have legal issues before the court. Never engage in behaviors which show that they are actually changing their behavior towards their partner or their children and still get custody and access.  [00:32:19][71.5]

Speaker 1: [00:32:20] I think this is I think it's for a couple of reasons. I think people really believe and understand that addiction, mental health issues belong to that person, right? And have more confident familiarity with those issues generally. They they think I think one of the big barriers is they think that the domestic violence is is an issue that actually goes away when the couple separates. Yes, or they don't understand. They mutualization. I think that I think it's a fundamental misunderstanding issue mischaracterization. I think essentially what is a kind of a way to let people who who are choosing violence abuse off the hook, right? You know, because it really says, OK, it's about both people and it. And like you said earlier, it's about conflict in the couple versus that pattern based approach. And so I think that we have to tease apart all these things. And you said, I think it is about the training of the lawyers. I think it is about the training of the evaluators, right? Because of the evaluators are giving better opinions back to the more accurate assessments of families and these situations back to the court, the court, even judges without training are going to make better decisions. I think that's just sort of, you know, the way the system works, that the judges are. Magistrates are very heavily relying in a lot of cases, not always. Sometimes they choose to ignore it on those expert opinions on those evaluators, on those right, on the opinion of of a guardian ad litem or psychological value editor if  [00:33:51][91.3]

Speaker 2: [00:33:51] you hand them deep contextual information, that's not pattern based. That's right. That is incident's focus, right? There's a high likelihood that you're not going to have a good outcome.  [00:34:03][11.9]

Speaker 1: [00:34:04] And when mental health and addiction issues for survivors are decontextualized and treated just as mental health issues or addiction diagnosis and treatment, yes, right by this mental health professional,  [00:34:15][11.5]

Speaker 2: [00:34:16] there was recently a great research article that came out. Surprise, surprise. Researchers are starting to say that PTSD and other issues caused by trauma are not mental health disorders. They are simply a response to trauma and stimulus. That means that if that continues in an ongoing way, and if systems and professionals back that up, that trauma is heightened. And so you know, it's it's it's incredibly mal informed to use PTSD and other trauma based diagnoses against a parent to remove custody from them and give custody to the person who caused that.  [00:35:01][45.5]

Speaker 1: [00:35:02] So going back to sort of  [00:35:05][2.6]

Speaker 2: [00:35:05] cranky survivor,  [00:35:05][0.4]

Speaker 1: [00:35:06] no, I love the cranky survivor and your and your and your awareness is so important going back to that that eight point kind of framework, which I think helps with both identification and assessment. You know, again, violence, abuse, coercive control systems, involvement, you know, of somebody to help identify. That's why you need to use those those systems and markers as a way to to potentially verify the presence of abuse and history. But it's not that it's not always there, but you have to ask that question looking and considering how some the patterns of change post-separation, you know, what are the concerns about future safety and and well-being and how might somebody manipulating the the the court systems? Then that's that's a that's a that's one area. Then questions about how these issues intersect with mental health. Addiction is another area, the culture and context, you know, status privilege. You know, as somebody who is a party, as a police officer, that's important, you know, standing in the community, somebody who  [00:36:13][66.9]

Speaker 2: [00:36:13] is a partner who has, you know, the immigration status, which is questionable.  [00:36:18][4.9]

Speaker 1: [00:36:19] That's why all those things are important to be considering again, because you're thinking through the lens of coercive control, not just physical violence, then obviously specific place to look at dangerous and lethality. Is there a reason to believe particularly moving into this separation, moving into court process where somebody who's been abused who may not get what they want? You know, we need to ask the question, what do we believe this person is capable, willing to do if they don't say what? Don't go with them? I mean, this is to me, it's it's a basic question to be asking parties.  [00:36:50][31.7]

Speaker 2: [00:36:52] It's like it's like dealing with a two year old, right? I'm going to say that over and over again, right? Because. Behavior modification means that every time that behavior crops up and somebody says, no, that we're at a point a critical point where that person who's engaging in trying to coerce an outcome is either going to accelerate their behaviors or they will modify their behaviors to fit the expectations that professionals and systems around them place on them. The missing piece here is that our systems have not been engaging in behavioral modification. They have not been saying no.  [00:37:36][44.3]

Speaker 1: [00:37:38] Well, no, and backing it up and doing it, and but the believe it to get there, you need to identify the problem. And I think part of it is that we've done a poor job in a lot of our system to identifying the problem behaviors, the things we should be concerned about. And again, if you're in a in a in a costing access environment where the concern is is just focused on risk of of of of violence, which again, I don't want to minimize like is a risk of violence, the risk of danger. That is an important conversation, but it can't again crowd out or replace or be be the only thing if you don't have a language and a framework to talk about the parent or caregiver who's engaged in abusive behavior and the harm it's created the kids in the context it's created for what's going on the family and how it's evolving and changing the family court and manifesting a family court process that you're really you're you're going to be at the mercy of that person. Yeah. And the environment they've created in the family, you're not going to identify why this person who has a legitimate claim to X amount of time or X amount of money is coming in and saying, No, I really don't want child support. That's OK because. You're not saying they're not saying he's going to kill me. He's not saying I'm going to be abused. They're just saying what they're saying is I  [00:39:03][84.8]

Speaker 2: [00:39:03] don't want to deal with it.  [00:39:04][0.9]

Speaker 1: [00:39:04] I don't want to deal with this. I don't want to. I don't want to deal with a risk to myself or my kids.  [00:39:08][3.6]

Speaker 2: [00:39:08] I would rather walk away and have nothing well, then deal with.  [00:39:12][3.7]

Speaker 1: [00:39:12] That's right. And and and my ex partner, I know if I ask for child support is going to demand things of me, right? And the kids, and it's going to hurt my kids and possibly put myself in danger. So I'm going to acquiesce before the fact. And I think, you know, I mean, there are systems set up to help that person identify it. And and again, like perpetrator proof and say, No, we're not going to necessarily let you go into into mediation. We're not going to let you know in those circumstances, it may not be the danger of physical violence. We're not going to let you go in there and let's person get their way and your kids to suffer. We are going to talk to you about safety and we're going to put this matter in front of a judge. And we're looking at, you know, could you be safe if there was an order of child support? You know, a partner with you  [00:40:01][49.0]

Speaker 2: [00:40:02] around is safe and in the context of of custody and having to send your children to somebody and then have that contact with them, right? Have that forced contact with them, right? Is that safe for your children and for you?  [00:40:18][16.1]

Speaker 1: [00:40:18] And the last thing is, I think these things have been have been separated out. That eighth factor is, is, you know, is there is there a history of parent or child abuse neglect? And I think again, historically, for those who haven't listened before, you know that the model. Really tries to connect up patterns of domestic violence with patterns of child abuse neglect, because that person who's often engaging in one can be is more likely to be guilty and the other. And I think we've done a disservice to the  [00:40:45][26.3]

Speaker 2: [00:40:45] family, and I'd really like to reiterate that when we say child abuse, because I think that people still associate child abuse with just physical violence, that again, we don't just mean physical violence. We don't just mean that that person is going to break their child's arm and therefore they're a bad parent. That means that that person is engaging in the same behaviors of coercive control, demeaning verbal abuse, emotional abuse, potentially sexual abuse, all of these different things which basically are habituating that child to believing. That that is normal parenting. The court allowing that to happen again tells that child that our that our society believes that that's OK and they grow up believing that that's the way that relationships are. And then we throw our hands up in the air and say, Oh, baby, why is domestic violence so prevalent? It's because we're not engaging in behavioral modification and drawing boundaries, firm and clear boundaries with people who are being abusive and saying, you may not have access to your children if you are going to harm them in these ways and teach them that this is OK. And really, I think also one of the things that needs to be acknowledged, particularly when it comes down to cultural issues to religious issues. That we are still living in a society where there are plenty of people involved in the systems who believe that that abuser has a right to mandate those things, that they have a right to use the courts to compel their partner to bring their children to church in the way that they want to, right? Or that they have a right to compel their partner not to engage, engage in certain types of relationships. This is sanctioned coercive  [00:42:45][120.0]

Speaker 1: [00:42:45] control, and it's not just it's not just the courts, I mean, I think it's and we we I  [00:42:51][5.3]

Speaker 2: [00:42:51] understand child protection.  [00:42:51][0.6]

Speaker 1: [00:42:52] We job protection to our friend to give our child protection relative valuation, which which told this domestic object and that she shouldn't engage in a relationship for a year. And this is, you know, are not OK. And I, you know, specifically, I wanted to highlight today the for the first part of this episode, the gender neutral nature of this conversation, right? I really did. And and and this is neutral on gender neutral and sexual orientation that that the core. And if you want, you can reference our our paper on the gender paradox at the heart of the domestic safety of the model. You know, it kind of put the link to that on this on the show notes. But but we're there's so much amount that is is about just about behavior, right? And that behavior is not about the gender or the sexual orientation of the person who's doing it and or the culture of the class, the background. It's really just about behaviors. And it's it is as those you who listen know the model also know it's impossible for me, at least to not talk about the gendered nature of these issues because I think this idea that you can tell somebody. Who like an evaluator could feel comfortable saying to a mother. You shouldn't be relationship with a man for a year to focus on kids. I have a really hard time believing they would say the same thing to a man, right? And and I think we have to look at why these allegations went again in the context of gender, why addiction allegations against mothers, why mental health addictions allegations against mothers who, why they end up caring so many, so much weight in these systems, right, is because that differing standard we have about mothers and fathers. Well, that really permeates all these systems.  [00:44:49][117.3]

Speaker 2: [00:44:50] So I think that we've done a real disservice to men and it's been worked into our narratives around men. We basically engaged in a caveman version of what men are. And that is very binary. Testosterone is the adjutant. You are biologically aggressive and unconcerned with other people's well-being because you're a man. People who engage in that type of of assumption, which is incorrect testosterone has been shown over and over again to not cause violence. It's not the causal piece. Entitlement is the causal piece. If you feel entitled, if you've been told that you're entitled to have these things to behave this way to rape.  [00:45:37][47.5]

Speaker 1: [00:45:38] I remember a bit  [00:45:38][0.6]

Speaker 2: [00:45:39] harder to do me a long time.  [00:45:40][1.4]

Speaker 1: [00:45:41] The narrative was that that abuse or violent behavior is tied to low self-esteem. And then when you read the literature and I don't think you see this actually very much anymore, but because it was so valid is that people who are engaging in violence and this was a lot of different settings often had an overinflated sense of themselves. And if you start thinking about that, how that overinflated, unrealistic sense of themselves, their capacities, their their rights to things, you begin to see how vulnerable that makes them to being unstable. Because if their expectations on themselves and the world's reaction to them is so unrealistic that therefore it's constantly being challenged and your choices of your believe your own narrative, how great you are that your choices at that point are, it's either I'm not that great. Wow, I've got to really look at myself or all of you are wrong and you're out to get me. And and and we see that over and over again in lots of settings in the world.  [00:46:40][59.4]

Speaker 2: [00:46:41] It's so interesting when you get down to it because a lot of professionals don't talk about the specificity of these behaviors. They don't engage in laying out the specificity of these behaviors. But you know, you have a domestic abuser who uses their body language right to intimidate and frighten their family into compliance. Oftentimes, that domestic abuser feels that that is their right to do that. This is what's called discipline, right, because they've been told that that's discipline because they experienced it growing up, and they believe that it's the way to discipline and they get such good results from it.  [00:47:24][43.4]

Speaker 1: [00:47:25] So I think part of it is, is this this for me, this this idea that collaborative parenting it should be put side by side. But the patterns of people are choosing abuse, I think is a way to really help systems rebalance about the work, the way they think about men and engage men, because I'm always a proponent that we need to get better, understand how fathers choices and behaviors matter to child and family functioning, including in the custody and access setting right. And that there there are tremendous number of men who are deeply engaged in a constructive way with their children, right? And they care about them and they care about them post-separation and they're involved  [00:48:03][38.3]

Speaker 2: [00:48:04] and they're engaged in nurturing ways. They're engaged in their day to day life. That's right. They take them to the doctor. That's right. They take them to school. That's right. They make them lunch. That's right. Make them dinner. They put them to the nursery. They read them books. That's right. All of these things that men are also responsible  [00:48:22][18.6]

Speaker 1: [00:48:23] for and I think men are not being seen are not being seen. And because when the argument gets framed as a right to access right versus as a looking at the behaviors of parenting, which is what kids need us to do. Kids need us to keep our focus on how are they being treated and not who has a right to them.  [00:48:45][22.1]

Speaker 2: [00:48:46] Right.  [00:48:46][0.0]

Speaker 1: [00:48:46] That's what kids need. Kids need, well, systems. And if we're going to inoculate our systems against a people choosing violence,  [00:48:54][7.5]

Speaker 2: [00:48:54] we have to and the notion that people have a right to access if they're abusive, if their behaviors are abusive  [00:49:00][6.0]

Speaker 1: [00:49:01] with that. And I think it's again, if you think through the lens of the voices of children that kids need us. So I'm speaking all the professionals and the systems to keep our focus on how they're being treated. It's a no brainer. And so our conversations about cost and access are not about patterns of treatment. We're missing some I  [00:49:21][20.0]

Speaker 2: [00:49:21] don't I don't believe in the context and history of the court, right? That it is a no brainer, right? I believe that children have been treated as commodities, that they have been treated as if they are property within the Family Court context and that, you know, if if you grew up in very conservative circles, as I did, children are a commodity, right? You have as many as you can, right? You're raising an army for another purpose. And you do treat children as if they're commodities instead of assessing behaviorally how you are nurturing them, how you are sustaining them, how you are teaching them to be good human beings. They must comply and they must do as they're told.  [00:50:18][56.9]

Speaker 1: [00:50:19] Right. And I think I think that when we talk about inoculating your system against or against perpetrators or abusers and them trying to manipulate costs, access proceedings to weaponize their children, to use those those proceedings against their partner, to punish them or to threaten them, or to hurt them or to control them. You know that we have to first identify and assess those patterns of behavior. We have to recontextualize what's going on and what we're seeing in our courts or in evaluations around that. If we're not getting that information or we're doing a psychological or psychosocial evaluation or interactive evaluation in the context of casting evaluation. And we don't have information about patterns, of course, to control historical behaviors. We haven't either seen how those connect to harm to kids and child and family functioning, or we're not doing that assessment ourselves right? Then there's much more of a chance that we're going to end up being victims. Of that perpetrator ourselves. And I'm really going to plea. I'm pleading with my professional colleagues to really say and look at this because if your training has prepared you for this, if your training hasn't really included looking at coercive control, if your training hasn't really looked at intersection between domestic violence, perpetration and mental health and addiction, if your training hasn't actually gotten you to look at patterns, of course control post-separation, then then you are more vulnerable than you can be or that you should be, and you're probably that minute.  [00:51:56][97.1]

Speaker 2: [00:51:56] Also, unfortunately, creating documentation which is not in the survivors best interest or their children.  [00:52:02][5.5]

Speaker 1: [00:52:02] The adult records of my response interest. And I think that that that for me, that we have the knowledge and the technology at this point to really reduce. The way perpetrators manipulate costing access. We know what's needed when we know that we're nowhere near that parental alienation is, is is, is not should be the focus of conversation.  [00:52:29][26.6]

Speaker 2: [00:52:30] Well, I think that the shift should the the focus should shift in parental alienation to looking at who's truly alienating. And that would be the person who's choosing to abuse their their ex-partner and their children and manipulate court systems around them in order to alienate that protective parent from the children.  [00:52:53][22.6]

Speaker 1: [00:52:53] And you and I don't see at this point. I think that the word alienation is so fraught, so fraught.  [00:52:59][6.4]

Speaker 2: [00:53:00] Yes, that  [00:53:01][0.8]

Speaker 1: [00:53:02] that even in the context in which I understand that you're using, that makes sense. Right? It's it's a hair trigger for so many people. It is that that we that we have to really reframe the conversation back to this one about about that. The standard of parenting that we're looking for is collaborative and and apply in that that way where we say when somebody has acted in a pattern, of course control, they have fundamentally stepped away from collaborative, collaborative parenting and that we can't even form an opinion about that, that other parent in any meaningful way until this is contextualized. And this is understood and this is addressed because that's so pervasive in its impact that that if we just we need to keep going back to. Patterns, of course, control is the antithesis of collaborative parenting, and therefore what flows from that antithesis is often going to be harmful to the child as a functional family. And in fact, is not going to be where the court wants to end up unless it's addressed by that parent who's engaged in that non collaborative, causally controlling behavior historically. And and that has to be the primary focus.  [00:54:19][77.1]

Speaker 2: [00:54:20] And and. There should be a level of simplicity to it. Here's the patterns of behaviors which show that this person is impeding collaborative co-parenting and is engaging in harmful behaviors, right? Change it. Show me you've changed it. Show me you've changed it, should acknowledge it. Show me you've acknowledged that again. I'll return to that tone to turn to the co-parents. Say, Has this gotten better, right? Is this person still threatening you, right? How is it when you when you have to switch custody? What's the temperament of this person? Are they engaging in in in harming collaborative co-parenting? Are they causing problems where problems do not exist?  [00:55:06][46.1]

Speaker 1: [00:55:06] That's right. And so I would say, you know, and that will reference the the paper also about perpetrator intervention program certificates are dangerous references, this kind of rubric that you're talking about about how to measure change. But what I want to say and and then we may need to start wrapping up because is a huge topic to talk about this for hours is that people have said to me, well, the safety in the mother talks about partnering and courts are neutral needs that need to be neutral and objective,  [00:55:39][32.7]

Speaker 2: [00:55:40] impartial and neutral when they come down with a judgment.  [00:55:42][2.4]

Speaker 1: [00:55:43] Well, that's right. So part of it is what I say to those folks is that the safety of the model was designed. Actually, it's behavioral focus was meant to be applied in an impartial, objective way. It was very specific, right, because it was brought into or developed in the context of government child protection systems that I was very where needed. And I believe I'm a I'm a believer in due process. I'm a believer in objectivity. I don't believe impartiality. I really am. I think those things are so critical for for governments and professionals to operate the way they're supposed to. And so this was like, here's a behavioral lens to put on what's in front of you. Right? To really do the best and most comprehensive assessment possible. And then then if we're going to follow the facts that that are are derived from that lens and that we have a mandate that is around child safety, which is which is often very present in the question access arena is often present in the child safety arena. Obviously, that at some point and you've identified a parent who's engaged in harmful behavior and a parent is engaged in protective behaviors, then given your mandate to child safety. Mm-Hmm. The perspective of the court is often going to align with the perspective of the protective parent.  [00:57:00][77.0]

Speaker 2: [00:57:01] It should,  [00:57:01][0.2]

Speaker 1: [00:57:02] it should and therefore parent and therefore it. And that's right. And therefore this idea of with insuring, like you just said, issuing an order issuing is taking a position is taking a side, is making a decision, is making a finding. A criminal  [00:57:16][13.8]

Speaker 2: [00:57:16] judgment is not  [00:57:17][1.3]

Speaker 1: [00:57:18] impartial. That's right. It's right, but that's right. Exactly. And I think it's it's really important to understand that that you want impartiality and neutrality and transparency in the way you get to your decision. But your decision to pick sides,  [00:57:30][12.5]

Speaker 2: [00:57:31] you need the best information, the clearest information, the most contextual information. That's right. To get to that,  [00:57:37][6.4]

Speaker 1: [00:57:38] to get that place. And so if if we say whether there they're good people on both sides, we've heard that recently said in the last couple of years, there's good people on both sides. But but when that applies to somebody doing harm and somebody who's protecting, then that's actually out of alignment with the mission of the courts. Right. And and systems and trusted for safety of kids, right? And so you get to say we actually are in alignment with this protective parent over here. That's not part of the line because  [00:58:10][31.6]

Speaker 2: [00:58:10] this protective parent over here is not criminal. Right? Because this protects a parent over here isn't engaging in assassinating collaborative co-parenting, which is the measure of the court. Because this protective parent over here is nurturing to the well-being of their children and their children's safety. And that parent over there is not right. There must be a dividing line. There must be there must be a place where the court is able to say our mission is the best interests of children, therefore, right, we must assess right. We should assess coercive control and domestic violence to ascertain whether  [00:58:51][40.8]

Speaker 1: [00:58:51] or not it's OK to come down on the side of that protective parent. Because coming down the side that protect a parent and a decision is coming down the side of the kids in a safe to the kids. And I think we need to get more comfortable with that at any time. I explain that partnering language in those behavioral steps. Mm-Hmm. Nobody who raises objection about impartiality neutrality has a problem with it. They all go. That makes sense. Well, I think it's it's it's there's unfortunately, there's a there's a fear and I'm back to gender here for a second. There's a fear that that in doing this, that that they'll be accused of being biased against men. And I think it's very important that that we need to really kind of acknowledge that system. Do need to do a better job behaviorally assessing men's roles in the lives of their kids, valuing the role of men's good behavior in the lives of their kids and identifying men's bad fathering behavior. Separate from a discussion around just it's about gender or it's about this is about behavior, right?  [01:00:02][70.8]

Speaker 2: [01:00:02] And the same is true for women as well. That's right. The same the same behavioral framework applies to women as well, which is why it's very frustrating when that takes over the conversation, which is intentional. I think it's intentional to distract away from behavior because  [01:00:19][17.1]

Speaker 1: [01:00:20] I think it's I think it's when it's again, it's it becomes framed as a rights issue. Right. I want to be clear to people that when you're having a great conversation, you're not having a behavior conversation, you're not having a conversation. And I think that's part of what you're saying. And it's we're not having a child safety conversation. So so we're actually looking at putting at the forefront child safety and the rights of the children to be safe in a post-separation environment environment. And we're looking at the way to do that. To identify, assess and inoculate is by really understanding patterns, of course control and the harm they do to child partner.  [01:00:58][38.6]

Speaker 2: [01:00:59] Part of understanding those patterns of post-separation coercive control is actually incredibly important to understand how people who are coercively controlling manipulate systems as part of that and documenting that right. If that person has made false allegations, you know multiple times in child protection against their co-parent, that should be documented as harassment.  [01:01:25][26.2]

Speaker 1: [01:01:26] That's harassment. That's right. And I think it's I think we're one of the things and harm to children and we keep saying we're going to  [01:01:31][5.5]

Speaker 2: [01:01:32] and we're not. And that's traumatic. We're having an open child protection case where child protection has to come in an interview with your family and you have to be interviewed as a child is incredibly traumatic. Why would any loving parent put their child through that? That's right.  [01:01:46][14.2]

Speaker 1: [01:01:47] That's right. And I think it's I think we need to name these things and be clear about them. And and we're seeing, as we've added system to manipulation into our mapping tools and to be software soon to be solved. So we software a little plug for our coming mapping software. Yes. And we've been working a lot, not just  [01:02:04][17.0]

Speaker 2: [01:02:05] patterns that  [01:02:05][0.7]

Speaker 1: [01:02:05] the Toolkit Mapping Software 2022 is going to be the year of technical technology and tools for us that that the more we put that into our tools, the more professionals are coming back to us saying we're getting better identifying this and it's paying off. Right? Because because while some of this is pretty and its and  [01:02:29][23.7]

Speaker 2: [01:02:29] expect  [01:02:29][0.0]

Speaker 1: [01:02:30] to push back. That's right. So this is insidious. It is actually hiding in plain sight. And then once you have the language for it, you actually can name it. People go, Oh, wow, wow, look at to about that way. And let's put it together. OK, so we are we are wrapping up this this this this episode. Our first one about a month is so great to be back. It is, and we were really worried that Tiberius the dog was going to be a problem. And he did.  [01:02:54][24.3]

Speaker 2: [01:02:54] He did change positions.  [01:02:56][1.3]

Speaker 1: [01:02:56] He did change his position once. But he's been. He's been quiet and he's resting. And it's it's it was lovely to have him here. And you've been listening to partner with a survivor. And I'm David Mandella, executive director of the Safe and Together Institute.  [01:03:11][14.2]

Speaker 2: [01:03:11] And I'm Ruth Stearns Mendel. And if you would like to hear more episodes, please go to our website. Safe and Together Institute XCOM if you would like to engage in training or free or paid training and become more domestic violence informed in your context, no matter what system you work in. You can go to Academy Dot Safe and Together Institute dot com and there is a mixture of free and paid training and we have our new partnering course out. Partnering with survivors three years in the making is out now. Yes, and you will get 15 percent off if you use the coupon code partnered all lowercase.  [01:03:52][40.9]

Speaker 1: [01:03:53] That's right. And of course, walks you through six steps that really kind of help you think about what what's involved, the skills involved with partnering. So I think on that note, we're out. We're out.  [01:03:53][0.0]