Principle II of the Guiding Principles of the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program (Supervised Visitation Program) states that visitation centers should be responsive to the background, circumstances, and cultures of their community and the families they serve.

The Supervised Visitation Program Philosophy and Perspective

Decades of grassroots advocacy have helped shape how various systems respond today to domestic violence. Yet, only recently has this response begun to address issues of culture[1] or diversity in relation to such violence or the provision of services.[2]

Generally, individuals, organizations, and communities often experience the world through their own cultural lens, whether it is recognized or named as such. Well-intentioned service providers, including visitation centers, have often established uniform approaches to services to increase efficiency or to make use of scarce resources.

However, a one-size-fits-all approach to delivering visitation and exchange services can limit a visitation center’s ability to assess its own organizational culture and to recognize and be responsive to the different culture(s), life experiences, values, and circumstances of the individuals, families, and communities coming into contact with its services. Failure to understand the social and cultural context of those who use visitation centers can lead to decisions that increase the risks to child(ren) and adult victims and reduce the usefulness of services.

While many visitation centers operate with limited resources, it is important to realize that the most cost effective way of providing services may not be the safest or most culturally appropriate. Valuing multiculturalism and diversity requires individuals and organizations to engage continually in self-reflection and self-critique, to become aware of their own cultural identities and backgrounds, and to examine their own patterns of unintentional and intentional bias against or for race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, socio-economic status, disabilities, or other axes of identification.[3]

Individuals experience their culture(s) differently and respond to traditional cultural values in different ways and to varying degrees. An individual’s cultural reality comes from the unique perspective based on that person’s life experiences in the context of the cultural groups in which she or he moves.[4] Visitation center staff, therefore, must be willing to listen to and try to understand the individual experiences and perspectives of those with whom they work. Incorporating multiculturalism and diversity into center practice can enhance safety and lead to better outcomes for children, adult victims, and batterers.[5]

Multiculturalism and Diversity Specific Resources
  • A Discussion of Accounting for Culture in Supervised Visitation Practices: The City of Chicago, Illinois Demonstration Experience by Praxis International, Inc. (2005). This safety audit used focus groups, interviews, observations, and case reviews to document how current center practices account for the cultural differences of families coming to the center and, in particular, account for families’ experiences with race and class oppression. Read this safety audit

  • Concepts in Creating Culturally Responsive Services for Supervised Visitation Centers by Oliver J. Williams, Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (2007). This report examines how supervised visitation programs serve culturally diverse populations and provides an overview of specific priorities and insights about how to enrich service delivery to culturally diverse populations. Read this report

  • Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities: Challenges, Promising Practices, and Recommendations by Michael Runner et al. (2009). This report discusses the challenges that confront immigrants and refugees in regard to intimate partner violence; describes promising models of prevention and treatment of intimate partner violence in immigrant and refugee communities; outlines the findings of a stakeholder meeting that offered recommendations; and summarizes suggestions for funding. Read this report

  • Ozha Wahbeganniss: Exploring Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services in Native American Communities by Lauren J. Litton and Oliver J. Williams (2006). This report explores and identifies guideposts for consideration for tribal communities that want to develop differential and flexible delivery of visitation and exchange services in the context of domestic violence for Native American families. Read this report

  • Resource Guide for Advocates and Attorneys on Interpretation Services for Domestic Violence Victims by Chic Dabby and Cannon Han, Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (2009, revised 2010). These guidelines focus on court interpretation for domestic and sexual violence victims with limited English proficiency. Read these guidelines

  • The Intersection of Disability, Diversity, and Domestic Violence: Results of National Focus Groups by Elizabeth Lightfoot and Oliver J. Williams in Vol. 18, No. 2 of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma (2009). This article explores the unique issues faced by people with physical and sensory disabilities in accessing help for domestic violence, with a particular emphasis on the experiences of people of color with disabilities. Read this article

 


[1] One definition of culture is shared experiences or commonalities based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, socio-economic status, physical abilities, or other axes of identification. See, Michael M. Runner & Sujata Warrier, Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence Cases: A National Judicial Education Curriculum, Section 2.21 (2001).

[2] Tricia B. Bent-Goodley, Culture and Domestic Violence: Transforming Knowledge Development, 20 J. Interpersonal Violence 201 (2005).

[3] See, Melanie Tervalon & Jann Murray-Garcia, Cultural Humility Versus Cultural Competence: A Critical Distinction in Defining Physician Training Outcomes in Multicultural Education, 9 J. Health Care for Poor & Underserved 117 (1998), as cited in Praxis Int’l, Inc., A Discussion of Accounting for Culture in Supervised Visitation Practices: The City of Chicago, Illinois Demonstration Site Experience (Dec. 2005).

[4] Patricia St. Onge et al., Nat’l Community Dev. Inst., Through the Lens of Race and Culture: Building Capacity for Social Change and Sustainable Communities (2003), at http://www.ncdinet.org/index.php?s=100.

[5] Firoza Chic Dabby & A. Autry, Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Activist Dialogues: How Domestic Violence and Child Welfare Systems Impact Women of Color and Their Communities (2005); see also Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Cross-Cultural Solidarity (2005), at http://toolkit.endabuse.org/BuildPartnerships/Cross-Cultural.