When Women Became Victims
Risk Assessment E-Learnings
by Angela Marie MacDougall
At Battered Women’s Support Services, we have been looking for and attempting to create accessible resources and training for front line anti-violence workers. We have been developing Strategic Interventions and looking at different models from other regions around the world. A women’s coalition in Ontario has developed accessible training and other resources for their members.
OAITH is a provincial coalition founded by women’s advocates in 1977. Their membership includes community based women’s service organizations, first and second stage transition houses. As a coalition of women’s serving organizations they work to educate and promote change in all areas that abused women and their children identify to their freedom from violence. We appreciated that the coalition comfortably declares that they operate from an integrated, feminist, anti-oppression perspective on violence against women, recognizing that violence and abuse against women and children occurs as a result of unequal power and status of women and children in society. They highlight that racism and oppression of women is a form of violence. They advocate for the strong inclusion of women who access services to inform service delivery and related policies.
Their commitments appear on their website and summarized here:
- Removing barriers to equality for all women and children
- Ensuring the voices and experiences of all abused women are heard when working for social change
- Increasing awareness through education, public advocacy and empowerment for OAITH members agencies
- Assisting agencies in offering support and services to women
- Offering training of OAITH members
- Working with equality-seeking allies in the community to end all forms of violence and oppression of women.
Compare and Contrast Context – Ontario and British Columbia
After reviewing the domestic homicides of Arlene May in 1996 and Gillian Hadley in 2000, Ontario prioritized risk and threat assessments for law enforcement and related systems as well as co-ordinated approaches between all working with domestic violence cases. A conference was held in Hamilton, Ontario in 2010 Reducing the Risk of Lethal Violence. Collaboration in Threat Assessment and Risk Management from Theory to Practice. This prompted OAITH to develop E-Learning resources for front line anti-violence workers, working in community-based women’s organizations, first and second stage transition houses.
In British Columbia, the BC Domestic Violence Action Plan was created and the Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy was amended December 2010 with risk assessment and evidence based risk assessment investigations leading the way forward. The plan and the revision were prepared through consultations between the BC ministries of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Attorney General and Children and Family Development with an emphasis on integrated services, that is, the need for a coordinated response to domestic violence among all agencies involved including referral to community-based victim service organizations where they exist. The ministries identified the need for change following the Lee/Park coroner’s inquest and the Representative for Children and Youth’s report on the death of Christian Lee. Christian Lee, his mother Sunny Yong Sun Park, and his maternal grandparents, Kum Lea Chun and Moon Kyu Park were killed by his father in 2007.
Here are the suggested joint recommendations to the coroners jury, very thoroughly developed by OAITH and the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) from July 1998 regarding the domestic homicide of Arlene May.
Here is the report to the chief coroner of British Columbia on Findings and Recommendations of the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel, May 2010 prepared by BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
The Risk Assessment E-Learning Modules for Front-line Anti-Violence Advocates
OAITH has prepared four modules for front-line anti-violence advocates: Feminist Analysis of Risk and Risk Assessment, Justice System Perspective on Risk Assessment Tools, Risk Assessment in Partnership with Women, and Safety and Advocacy Planning.
It was encouraging to see OAITH attention to a Feminist Analysis of Risk and Risk Assessment module. This module is very validating of the work of women’s anti violence advocates over the years. In particular, the module examines current risk assessment practices which have largely been designed for law enforcement, legal systems and health systems which place the women at the centre as victim with the service providers surrounding her as experts. The application of a feminist analysis of risk and risk assessment was refreshing. The module encourages reviewing concepts of risk empowering front line anti-violence workers to analyze and develop models that make sense for the women they serve and the work in their communities. The module details what risk assessments can and can’t do.
The Justice System Perspective on Risk Assessment Tools module provides an important overview and feminist analysis of the justice system risk assessment tools. The module is de-mystifying, defining the difference between safety, threat, lethality and risk assessments, provides an inventory of spousal violence risk assessment tools including SARA and B-Safer developed by forensic psychologists Randy Kropp and Steven Hart and popular with police services in BC.
The module includes Danger Assessment by Jacquelyn Campbell, Danger Assessment 2004 and a website dedicated to Danger Assessment that can be completed with women. The module provides information for front line anti violence workers supporting women going through the risk assessment process with police services and legal/justice systems. Women Abuse Council of Toronto has High Risk Assessment Training by Jacquelyn Campbell on their website.
Risk Assessment in Partnership with Women module provides an overview of how front-line anti-violence workers can support identify risk to strategize with women, emphasizing that risk assessment shouldn’t be a mysterious process. The module validates and recognizes that front-line anti-violence advocates have always conducted risk assessments if not in a standardized and/or formalized way.
Safety and Advocacy Planning module examines how anti-violence workers can work with women to create safety and advocacy plans and it reviews safety plans available online. The module includes a section on safety planning with children by Lundy Bancroft. The Safety Not Justice section of the module has critical significance to our front-line anti-violence work in BC presently.
Risk Assessment and Big “A” Advocacy
The four modules validate the broad based advocacy that feminist advocates do all the time. Our detractors often challenge our work by suggesting that we have no proof for the claims we make based on our work with women. In reality in the past two decades women’s advocates have rarely had the time or resources to conduct research, additionally, we may not have felt empowered to embark on systemic and institutional advocacy, believing it was some other organization’s responsibility, not within our mandate or too daunting. Risk assessment provides an opportunity for our front-line advocacy because we collect loads of anecdotal information that if organized effectively can be identified as research. Risk assessment provides an opportunity where our work with women can help us identify systemic and social issues that as feminist advocates we can attempt to address with our broad-based advocacy. That through identifying the facts, the consequences and the possible solutions so the data collected through risk assessments can assist us with our larger systemic and institutional advocacy. At Battered Women’s Support Services we have used this process to do the systemic and institutional advocacy with the increasing instances of battered women arrests. In the first half of this month we have seen four new cases representing a 200% jump in referrals. In advance of the adoption of the White Paper on Family Relations Act: Reform for new Family Law Act, Battered Women’s Support Services is identifying areas for systemic and institutional advocacy.
Substance Use and Harm Reduction
Substance use and Harm Reduction in women’s services, transition house/shelter service provision has been a challenging service delivery issue in BC and Ontario for some time. There has been much debate and in some aspects has created polarized political positioning within the transition house and shelter providers. OAITH has produced “Safe For All” Harm Reduction training video for front line service providers particularly transition houses/shelters, who may be thinking about harm reduction and policy development. The video looks at safety, stigma, trauma and parenting policies also. The video is a good starting place for anyone looking for information on harm reduction and violence against women. Battered Women’s Support Services is examining current research and has developed training curricula on the harm reduction continuum and working with women survivors of violence.
If you are a woman dealing with intimate partner violence and/or you’re working in a community based women’s organization, community-based victim service organization, first or second stage transition house in British Columbia or if you are an interested community member in any region, we would love to hear your thoughts on this post and the resources presented here. Please comment here or email us at email@example.com.
I’m a victim service worker and I work relief shifts at a transition house in a rural community. I am glad for this post and information.
There’s lots here to digest. This information will be very useful.
This is great. It is so wonderful that we have this new technology to use and find out more ways of helping our sisters.
“Risk Assessment in Partnership with Women module provides an overview of how front-line anti-violence workers can support identify risk to strategize with women, emphasizing that risk assessment shouldn’t be a mysterious process. The module validates and recognizes that front-line anti-violence advocates have always conducted risk assessments if not in a standardized and/or formalized way.”
100% agree! In fact a more accurate statement would also say women experiencing violence have always safety planned for themselves and their children if not in a standardized and/or formalized way.
Great to see these excellent resources from our sisters at the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) highlighted in your blog! Here are a few additional feminist initiatives, resources and trainings for anti-violence advocacy, harm reduction substance use and anti-violence advocacy community building currently available or coming soon right here in BC!
BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH)
The BCSTH’s Reducing Barriers for women who have experienced violence and varying levels of mental wellness and substance use project will soon release a toolkit and training for anti-violence advocates in transition housing programs. Funded by the Status of Women Canada, the project consulted women with lived experience to develop training and a toolkit for anti violence advocates at Transition, Second Stage and Safe Homes across the province. For a copy of the discussion paper, please see:
The Reducing Barriers Toolkit will be launched at the BCSTH Conference in October.
The BCSTH Annual Conference will be held October 19-21, 2011 and features workshops and panels grounded in women centered anti-oppressive promising principles and practices on the intersections of violence, substance use and mental wellness. For information on the BCSTH Conference, please visit http://www.bcsth.ca/content/annual-conference-training-%E2%80%93-pathways-service-excellence
The BCSTH recently released Violence Against Women, Mental Health and Substance Use. This report is the summary of a review conducted for the Canadian Women’s Foundation to enhance grant making, analyze emerging trends, and understand the current philanthropic environment of services for women who have experienced violence and who have mental health and substance use concerns. The review involved consultations with women with lived experience, service providers and representatives from various ministries across Canada through email and via phone. To read the report please visit our website at http://www.bcsth.ca or the report at http://www.bcsth.ca/sites/default/files/BCSTH%20CWF%20Report_Final_2011.pdf
BCSTH On Line Learning Resource/Community Centre is currently under development, thanks to generous grants from the Vancouver Foundation. This On Line Centre will provide a virtual space for facilitated, interactive training and resources as well as space for discussion forums for transition housing and CWWA anti-violence advocates across the province. The BCSTH virtual Resource Centre will provide a “space” for advocates to share knowledge, build on one another’s experiences and strategize for change. The On Line Resource Centre will be launched later this year.
BCSTH training for Reducing Barriers for Women with Varying Levels of Mental Wellness and Substance Use for transition housing anti-violence advocates will be held regionally throughout BC this winter and spring, 2012. For more information, please check our website http://www.bcsth.ca or call: 604.669.6943 or toll free at 1.800.661.1040.
The BC Women’s Hospital Woman Abuse Response Team’s Building Bridges provides resources and training to:
• Increase knowledge and training about the intersection of violence, substance use and mental ill health, grounded in women’s voices and lived experiences
• Encourage and foster cross-sectoral dialogue within and across the Mental Health, Addictions and Anti-Violence sectors
• Build individual and community capacity to better support women impacted by violence, substance use and mental ill health.
For more information see: http://www.bcwomens.ca/Services/HealthServices/WomanAbuseResponse/Building+Bridges.htm
The Woman Abuse Response Team is holding the Conference, For Her Own Good, in Vancouver on November 1st and 2nd Conference participants will:
• explore whether policies, legislation, systems, services and providers are meeting the diverse needs of girls and women impacted by violence and abuse
• share examples of emerging promising practices and research
Presentations and dialogue will explore how social and health care systems and services that are designed ‘for her own good” may actually further harm or marginalize women when they try to access support. Examples of research, policy and practice that demonstrate ways to mitigate harms and respond effectively to women’s safety and health needs will also be showcased. To register for the conference, or to find out more, please visit their website at: http://www.forherowngood.org/
The Ending Violence Association of BC’s (EVA BC) Freedom From Violence: Tools for Working with Trauma, Mental Health and Substance use is another great resource to assist anti-violence advocates and the women they work beside. It is available on line from their website. http://www.endingviolence.org/node/459
The BC Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy, Assessing Risk and Safety Planning
The amended Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy in BC http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/victimservices/publications/docs/vawir.pdf stipulates that formal Risk Assessments are to be managed by police, whereas others working with women who have experienced violence assist women with Safety Planning. Of course we know that Safety Planning is inextricably linked to Risk Assessments and that anti-violence workers have worked beside women to help identify risks and develop plans to increase their safety throughout the history of our work.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and BC Housing E-Training Safety Planning
Safety Planning E-training is a BC government initiative which responds to the recommendations stemming from the Lee Inquiry. Anti-violence advocates from Transition Housing programs, Community-based Victim’s Assistance, Children Who Witness Abuse and STV counselling programs, as well as the two provincial organizations, BCSTH and EVA BC have consulted with government on the content of this training throughout the past year, collectively insisting that violence be seen systemically and on content that does not individualize or privatize violence or pathologize women experiencing it. Anti-violence advocates will be asked to pilot training prior to government launching it.
BCSTH Staff and Volunteers
Thanks for this information from Ontario. Grassroots feminist resources are hard to come by. Will Battered Women’s Support Services training ever be available online?