Domestic violence. Such a dirty, criminal act.
Encountering cases of domestic violence is an unfortunate aspect of serving dads. And it’s one of the most challenging as staff are often ill-equipped to serve dads who have committed domestic violence or are at risk for it.
That’s why I was happy to learn about a new resource from the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families. It’s called “Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Perpetrators: What the Research Suggests.” Notice that the title includes the term “intimate partner violence” rather than “domestic violence.” Is there a difference? Not much. The terms are used interchangeably to describe the same criminal act. Their origins are different, however. (You can learn more about that difference here.) Moreover, intimate partner violence is preferred by some people because it captures a broader array of violence between intimate or formerly-intimate partners (e.g. dating couples and same-sex couples) than what typically comes to mind when people hear or use the term domestic violence.
I use domestic violence because it’s the more common term used in fatherhood programs and other father-serving efforts. For example, an official protocol in a fatherhood program for how to screen for and handle actual or suspected cases of domestic violence is called a “Domestic Violence Protocol” rather than an “Intimate Partner Violence Protocol.”
Semantics aside, this new resource is an excellent primer on domestic violence. It uses the most recent research to:
- Define what it is.
- Describe how frequently it happens.
- Identify its predictors.
- Provide data on perpetrators and victims—women and men are victims and perpetrators.
- Describe the risk factors that make someone more prone to being a victim or perpetrator and the risk factors that exist beyond the individual level. It also describes the risk factors at the relationship, community, and societal levels.
- Describe interventions designed to reduce it.
It also identifies some additional resources you can use, such as one other from the center called the Family Violence Prevention Toolkit.
I encourage you to download this resource, read it, reflect on how your new knowledge can help you serve dads more effectively, and distribute it to your colleagues who serve dads and families. And if you facilitate a fatherhood program, or work with dads in groups or individually in any other capacity, I also encourage you to acquire the Understanding Domestic Violence™ booster session from National Fatherhood Initiative®. Many organizations use it as their domestic violence component in serving dads (e.g. when a funding source requires such a component). They use it to supplement NFI and other fatherhood programs. You can facilitate it in its entirety with groups of dads in less than a day or, as many organizations do, select some of its content to integrate into a fatherhood program session or one-on-one counseling with dads. To learn more about it, click here.
Is there more you need to learn about domestic violence to better serve dads?
Does your organization have an official domestic violence protocol for staff?