Peter Jaffe, Ph.D.: We all start with some ideas about supervised visitation, who the clients are going to be, what they are going to look like, what their problems are, but the reality we deal with a whole range of individuals from all segments in our communities. So, back then, I didn't know much but I was full of energy and enthusiasm, I believed that I could change the world. I stand before you some 36 years later, I haven't changed much, and part of that is because I haven't given up hope, but I think what I have started to realize, and something that most of you realize as well, is that we don't have easy answers. And, when it comes to supervised visitation there are no easy answers.
What we realize is that these are very complex issues. All of us, including myself, know that there is no pat answers, in fact you have to think more and more about what the questions are. What fits certain clients under certain conditions? We work with such diverse cultural communities in our community that there is not one-size-fits-all and its really trying to take domestic violence seriously and responding in ways that are appropriate to meet the needs of individual children and families.
I tried to summarize what did we learn over the last 30 years, so I keep thinking about what do we know now that we didn't know back then. So, one thing we know for sure is that this is a significant problem that affects the whole community. In the old days, we used to think, well these are people who are drunk or poor or on the wrong side of the tracks, we all have stereotypes. Zero tolerance doesn't mean you arrest everybody and throw them in jail for life. Zero tolerance means we take the issue seriously, we investigate it thoroughly, we have people trained and qualified to look at these issues seriously. It doesn't mean you lock everybody up and throw away the key, it means we no longer ignore the problem.
I said, quite frankly, if you look at the major problem it is still people who are living with violence who don't reach out for help. And, then this lawyer actually in the article said that a lot of women are going to court and making up false allegations of violence because they want to limit the abuser's rights, and I said, well quite frankly, my number one problem in my office when I'm involved in child custody cases, and actually recently we did an audit of five family courts, what we actually found was that the number one problem is people who agreed to visits with their ex partner where their visit is not a safe thing. They actually should be going to court and asking for more restrictions.
Where people are exhausted physically, financially, and they just agree to something that's terrible for their kids, but either they have given up or they need their partner for child care, or financial support, or emotional support so the reality is, the number one challenge we have, is children who are living in very dangerous circumstances where somebody is not really talking about the violence. When we talk about what do we do about domestic violence, well, clearly supervised visitation plays a critical role because part of it is safety, part is about accountability, part is allowing the healing process to take place.
Often I have clients who say, "Well, I don't need supervision, I can see my kids right away, I'm fine." Actually, in some cases when you can really think this through, there are times when it is actually better not to have contact with kids. People always worry about, "Well if I lose contact with my kids, is that going to affect my relationship?" In fact, not having contact might actually protect your relationship because they are not going to see you at your very worst if you cannot get your life together and being supervised and being supported, depending on the environment, might actually be part of the healing process. Again, this is an issue that is very controversial, but it is still part of the important principles.
We also know that coordination of services is the key. It doesn't matter, you can be the best judge in the world, you can be the best police officer, but if you don't have good support services that follow through then it's not going to be very meaningful.
We also know more now that the family court plays a very critical role, and this is a real change. Most of our work in domestic violence, going back 30 years, has really been in the criminal court. If you are in the criminal court in most jurisdictions, generally speaking, you have judges who've received appropriate education programs; you have prosecutors who are specialized; you have police officers, more and more, who are specialized, who report to somebody who is the domestic violence coordinator depending on the jurisdiction; you have victim services. In my jurisdiction, you are guaranteed to have a specialist prosecutor, a specialist police officer, and victim services in place.
So, in criminal court you know who is in charge, the accountability is built in. If somebody screws up, you know who the supervisor is, there is something built into the system. In family court, it's every man and women for themselves. Even the lawyers cannot even afford lawyers, and more and more, people are representing themselves. I'm not sure what the figures are in most jurisdictions, but more and more, it's estimated that anywhere from 30 and 50 percent of litigants now go to court without representation, without a lawyer, without an advocate. The judges that used to come to the bench thinking that they are going to make wise, legal decisions are now crisis counselors because they are seeing people unrepresented before them with very raw emotions, having to make very difficult decisions. So, the system has changed and the family court has a very special onus.
I think one of the challenges we faced, and I'm going to come back to this at the end, is who is really accountable in the court, because the court is very much about, and again I don't want to offend anybody, but more and more, it's really about "let's make a deal." There is very few resources. Actually, I got a call from the same reporter from the Toronto star who asked me about the family court and what's happened and the dwindling resources, and I used this analogy, and I don't want to offend anybody, but sometimes I have to use analogies to try to make a point. I said, more and more, the family courts are becoming like restaurants with no kitchen. They're like restaurants with no kitchen. There's a menu, there's a maitre d', there's lots of seats, but when it's all said and done, to get access to resources, to actually have the financial and emotional energy to actually get what you need and to put it all into place, it's the exception.
Most people go away, most people come for one appearance, it gets adjourned, there's no problem solving or narrowing of the issues in many of the jurisdictions we reviewed. I'm not generalizing to every jurisdiction, or every judge, we have clearly some model programs. But, we saw a lot of people who go once and don't come back. And again, I mention that not to discourage you or depress you, but just to say we need to expect better and we need to have resources to support the difficult work that the family court judges do, and part of that work obviously comes from supervised visitation centers working in collaboration with advocates working in collaboration with programs for perpetrators or batterers. Clearly, we need to have lots of people working at the table together. Often, centers are left out of critical information.
And, you need to be at the table, you need to have the critical information. One of the pieces of information that we are learning about, more and more, and we didn't know years ago, is how much children are affected by domestic violence. Children watch adults very carefully. Children are always watching you, and actually there is a famous expression from the man who wrote the book "Everything I ever needed to learn, I learned in kindergarten" who said, "don't worry that children don't listen to you, worry that they are always watching you," "don't worry that children don't listen to you, worry that they are always watching you," because, more and more, children hold you accountable. It's not what you say, but it's what you do.
Living with domestic violence is itself a form of child abuse and we need to think carefully about the means we have to think about the messages that kids get It doesn't mean that we intervene and we victimize abused women by taking away children when there is abuse, but it means we have to think about the messages that kids get when they are exposed to violence in their homes.
I think what's confusing for those of you who are newer to the domestic violence movement and newer to this work with supervision, you know you always think that you are protecting kids from this "bad guy," you know in terms of the stereotype of who we might be worried about in terms of having supervision. In fact, the "bad guy" usually is not a bad guy because nobody is battering 24/7. The "bad guy" also may be a good baseball coach, maybe a good bread winner, maybe somebody the kids want to be just like, they look up to him, they admire him, they want to be just like him.
In fact, that's the complexity of what we are dealing with. It is easy if you had a girl who was sexually abused by her dad and you went before the court and the girl said to the judge, "Your honor, my dad sexually abused me, but he he never meant any harm. I love him. I want to live with him. I don't want to be with my mum. I want to live with my dad." There is not a judge in this room or in the U.S. anywhere who would put that child in the care of the father. Is that fair to say? I hope that's fair to say. On the other hand, if you had a boy who is growing up with a batterer who sees his dad make regular demeaning, belittling comments, physically assault, sexually assault his mother, make comments at the dinner table about how ugly, stupid, fat, useless, worthless she is, and then comes to court and says to judge, "Your honor, I'm a boy. I want to be a man just like my dad. I want to live with my dad." If you say that when you are 10, 11, or 12 years of age it creates a dilemma for a judge, when you have a boy with a strongly expressed wish who wants to be just like his dad, and in fact it may not be a safe thing to be just like your dad. So, those are very difficult dilemmas. Judges are often faced with those dilemmas. What do you do?
Do you ignore the child's wishes and focus on best interests? Then you might have a boy who ends up assaulting his mum, put in a very difficult situation. A boy who is going to run away from home. What kinds of interventions are possible? These are very complex issues, and those are some of the dilemmas you face in your centers as you see some of these individual cases.
Again, this work is difficult because people always ask you, "are you for mothers or are your for fathers?" people ask me that all the time. I see male clients who say to me, "You just like women, you write about abused women, you think every man's guilty," and I say, "No, I love men, I love my father, I love my boys, I have great confidence in men, even men who are doing bad things." So I'm always torn between being asked if I am for mothers or if I am for fathers, this is a very difficult dilemma and I always say, "Well, I'm against violence, I'm in favor of safety, accountability, and healing as it applies to individual situations. So, I'm not making general comments about men or women."
Judges face that a lot, every decision you make, it's "what kind of bias do you have?" You're always asked "what is your bias?" I have to keep saying, "my bias is against violence." There's not a judge I know, there's not a counselor I know, who supports abuse knowingly or supports domestic violence. Most of us want to save lives. Most of us want to be part of a healing process. Most of us are still in this work because we are optimists. So, it is not about being against men or women.
Is this kind of somebody who has made a mountain out of a mole hill? Or somebody who, in your center, has taken a mountain and tried to go in the other direction? These are very difficult circumstances, and you really need all of the information possible, and clearly all of us are always erring on the side of caution.
Here are some of the dilemmas. For those of you that are new to the work, part of what I want to tell you about is how complex this work is. When you are part of a system, who do you believe? If you are in a center, you are not the judge, you are not the custody evaluator, you are providing a safe place for somebody to maintain a relationship with a child, but here are some of the dilemmas that we get drawn into. In every case that I have gotten involved with that end up in court for some time, there is conflicting testimony about domestic violence and Parent Alienation Syndrome. So, one person says they are the victim of abuse and the other parent says that in fact there is no abuse and in fact that parent is saying bad things about them and alienating the child against them. How many of you are involved in those cases, where there is conflicting testimony?
Let me just say that there is no such thing as Parent Alienation Syndrome, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to make this a diagnosis that is reliable and valid in any way. There is alienating behavior, in fact, there may be a lot of parents, when going through separation, may say bad things about the other parent and that is something you want to prevent on the outset; however, living with violence and developing a safety plan for yourself and your children does not make you an alienating parent, it makes you somebody who is trying to cope with difficult circumstances.
So, these are the challenges we face. We often have very crowded dockets, we have the volume of cases, and again the analogy I used, and again I'm not, I'm just really describing the reality, and I'm talking about the reality because I think we need to advocate to make sure judges have the best resources, because no judge is an island, effective judges and effective family courts have resources around them to help them in the very difficult decision making process and also to develop the strategies in terms of the plan that follows the court. What do we do to protect both children and victims who are often mothers, but they may be fathers?
When we talk about what else, what do we know now that we didn't know back then, I want you to think when you are talking to different clients, when clients come to you in different emotional states, one of the things we have learned is how complicated it is to leave an abusive relationship. Somebody may leave and they are referred to a supervised center, but think about the complexity. Sometimes they have stayed for a long time as part of their safety planning, think about all the barriers in leaving, disruption from school, the impact of the separation.
When we think about this issue for years, probably for 30 years, probably we have heard the question, "Why does she stay? Why does she stay so long?" And, the real question we have to ask ourselves is, "How does she get out? How does she leave?" given all the barriers, all the hurdles to leaving. The reality is that if you stay eventually somebody finds out about the domestic violence, they may come to your house and tell you that you are a terrible mother because you are letting the children live with domestic violence, and child protection may take over in extreme cases.
If you leave, you might appear before a family court where the system says we presume everybody is going to be a co-parent, that's a presumption, tell us why you're not going to be a co-parent. So really, in some ways, if you are an abuse victim with children you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you stay, you're accused of not protecting the children, if you leave you're going to be in the system that has limited resources where the major resolution is "let's make a deal."
One of the things that we often forget is that people may present in very different ways and not know the right information. So, if you go to a courthouse where there's state cutbacks and people are taking one day a month off, depending on the circumstances, there are not enough resources, if you are angry and frustrated as an employee for the state in the courthouse and you communicate that to a victim of domestic violence, they are not going to give you enough information to get to the judge or get the right referral to the right agency.
If you think about it, if you were ever depressed and you were looking for a therapist, and you finally found a therapist and the therapist looked more wouldn't go back for a second visit and you wouldn't send a friend there. It is the same thing if you are a domestic violence victim, if you're angry, confused, feeling hopeless about a system.
There is a Florida jurisdiction that I won't name, where the court staff refused to give out information because they felt they didn't really want to ask questions about domestic violence because they really weren't properly qualified. They would give out the forms, but they wouldn't answer questions because they didn't want to give people the wrong information, they were limited.
So again, we're part of a system where there are so many barriers to leaving. When the system gets too complicated for us, you can imagine what it is like when you are a victim or survivor of domestic violence. Who you're seeing in the supervised visitation centers, the reality is that domestic violence affects you. But, imagine the stress of being a parent, even a parent when you have a job, you have decent resources, you have a supportive partner or supportive networks, imagine trying to be a parent when the other parent is beating up on you, when the other parent tells you that you are fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, useless.
I use that example because I testified in a case in Montreal where somebody recommended joint custody in the case where the husband never laid a hand on his wife, never laid a hand on his kids, all he did was watch violent pornography and then sit at the dinner table making demeaning comments about the mother telling her that she is fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, and so, I testified about the impact of pornography on parenting and the impact of verbal abuse on kids. The judge sort of looked at me with glazed eyes, and the judge was a very nice person, but the judge had seen too many shootings and stabbings and talking about somebody calling somebody else names just didn't reach the threshold of what mattered in that circumstance. So, I had trouble with that testimony trying to explain the impact of that on children.
Think about what that does to you as a parent. You work hard and somebody is affecting you physically, emotionally, financially. Somebody gives you an allowance to go grocery shopping, somebody monitors everything you do, where you go, who you see, what you do. I had a client who was allowed to go grocery shopping but her partner actually checked the receipt on the grocery bill to see the time that she left the checkout counter, to see when she got home, that was the level of control in the relationship. So, think about what that does to you as a parent, that doesn't make you a peak performer. I always compare that to what it does to all of us. To think about the challenge of being a parent to begin with and how that gets undermined in a variety of ways.
We see a lot of circumstances. You might see the batterer might be the one in the family that was very strict, and the victim of domestic violence is the one who bends over backwards, the one that has no rules, is trying to compensate for the trauma that the children have lived with, and we call that person a poor parent because they have no boundaries, no rules. The reality is that this is the way that you adjust and adapt, and it gets worse over time; the longer you live with the violence, the more you see some of these symptoms.
Again, these are the things we now know that you need to bear in mind when you are doing work within the family court or doing work in terms of a supervised visitation center. The bottom line here, the last point on the slide, is really at some point we really never know the true potential of a parent until we have seen them free from abuse for some time.
Okay, it happened, it was bad, it's relevant, but just get on with your life, just get on with your life, forget about it, forget about it, pretend it never happened. Well, the reality is that you don't forget about it, actually what the research suggests is that you get traumatized by it. The research suggests you get nightmares, flashbacks, you feel anxious.
You know in the same way, if you think about what we go through in terms of national security, we are all traumatized by terrible things that have happened, and we all get hyper vigilant. You know, you go through the airport and they tell you whether it is a orange day, red day, yellow day, whatever the color is, even though most of us don't listen anymore because it is still the same procedure, but the reality is if you are living with domestic violence and you are a survivor, you're thinking about whether it is an orange day and it means a lot to you. If your partner starts drinking more, if you've seen him outside of your workplace, if he's sent you 30 text messages, actually you are worried and you do respond differently.
One thing I want you to appreciate is that as you are working with somebody over time they may appear to be getting crazier and in fact they are because the system sometimes makes them crazier, and their ex partner, their major motivation in life is to drain them financially and emotionally and that's part of the aftermath you see.
So, sometimes you have to go to court, I have to go to court, and I say to a judge in a report, it is up to the judge, but I say, "Your honor, enough is enough. The courthouse itself has become an extension of abuse in the marriage. The marriage was about power and control. Domestic violence was about his ability to control and dominate his partner in a variety of ways, and he can't do that the way he used to because she's gone. But now, he is doing it through the courthouse, he is doing it through you."
As a matter of fact, it may not be, it's good if it is one judge, because what we find in our family court review, we found that the cases that were the most complicated had six or seven different judges on it, in a large jurisdiction, so nobody has really actually ceased the matter and there is no case management. In fact, it is everybody getting a fresh day in court and a chance to start all over again.
So again, these are things that are crazy making. So, when you have somebody in your center who appears angry, anxious, agitated, confused, depressed, there is good reason for it sometimes. That's not always the way they are going to be if someone actually understands and develops a plan that builds in the safety and accountability.
Abusive partners do well in the system. As a matter of fact, there was a study done years ago in California that suggested that abusers are twice as likely as non-abusers to apply for custody of children and equally likely to get it. Why do abusers do well in court? They do well in court because sometimes they are charming; they lie; they manipulate; they know how to play the system; they know all of their rights; they don't always know all their responsibilities, but they know their rights; they know how to challenge things.
In some circumstances, the first time you meet them, maybe the first time their partner met them during courtship, they seem like nice people, charming, they felt sorry for them, they had lots of redeeming qualities, but in fact they turned out to be a major con, but they keep that up in the court system and they wear people down. These are all of the things you tend to see, rigid authoritarian styles, bullying, engendering fear, lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement. That's a major issue, lack of respect, control over the children, children are pawns. I just finished a case recently where the children, their job was to check mum's computer and check who she'd been emailing, the sites she'd been on. So, the child was actually not only a pawn, but a spy used to gather information on a reconnaissance mission.
These are very complex things because in reality batterers are also very nice people. Batterers are lawyers, doctors, psychologists; they come in all sizes and shapes. So, it's very deceiving. They can be community leaders in a variety of ways, and it's very hard to call people, because some of the skills that makes them good cons and manipulators may also help them get ahead in life, whether they are in the business world or in different professions. The things that help you in one place may not help you at home, and in fact, do not lead to very healthy, intimate relationships.
So, these are things we have to think about in terms of what is the abusive partner's role as a parent. How many have been charmed? How many of you have had first visits? I mean, when you're new to this field, and again this is my experience and some of you have been around a long time, but when you first get involved in a case and you read police reports and you read the convictions and the background and you're thinking you're going to see some guy who is going to show up and he is going to have a leather vest and he is going to have a skull and crossbones tattooed on each side, and he is going to have major markers, he is going to have batterer written on his forehead. The person you meet is nothing like, how many have been shocked by somebody you have met where you've read the police rap sheet and they are totally different than what you read about. How many have had that experience?
You say, "Well, there must be some mistake," but you are still somewhat suspicious so you check the date of birth, the middle name, make sure you've got the right person. Then over time you actually start to like them, you feel sorry for them, they tell you a sad story, and this is something, and actually the person who actually has taught me a lot about this are second wives who've gotten the con job.
The second wives who are told the violence didn't really happen. The first wife was really this angry, mean, B-I-T-C-H, she didn't understand me, she didn't love me, she never loved me enough, she never really understood me, but you understand me, you're special. Have you heard that before? No.
Second wives have taught me a lot about what happens. I have actually had cases where second wives have come to court as character witnesses. The worst ones are the ones who are Sunday school teachers or kindergarten teachers. They come to court and say, "Your honor, he is a wonderful guy, he never raises his voice." And, I always say, "Just wait. Let's look at that evidence two years from now because often the picture emerges."
I've had cases of somebody has wanted to change their testimony. Where they have actually had a child with the batterer, testified against the first wife, now they are in court worried about visits to their child, now saying the truth. And, the judge says, "You were lying then, but you are telling the truth now?" It is very hard when you go to court and the last time you lied for various reasons to cover up, but now you are telling the truth. It is very difficult in terms of credibility before the court as all of you know.
So, this is some of the challenge for us in our centers. If you look at the impact of domestic violence on infants, children, adolescents we are talking about some very complex phenomena. This is a major breakthrough. Half the lawyers I work with still think that if you don't lay a hand on kids you haven't really hurt them, even though we have all of this research.
I always find it surprising because in the U.S. there is not a single state that doesn't recognize domestic violence is harmful to children. Either there is a rebuttable presumption around custody not being given to the batterer or domestic violence is a factor in the state legislation in regards to deciding parenting plans, but in spite of that, we haven't really internalized this knowledge. We still believe that if somebody hasn't laid a hand on kids they haven't been affected.
All of the research on the potential impact on infants, children, adolescents, is very painful, but it is an important reminder. Not every child is affected the same way, it's not like with any research. It's not like well if you see domestic violence once you're going to have this reaction. The impact may vary according to age, gender, where you are in the sib line. The impact is very complicated, they are very complex. The impact may be immediate, it may be short term, it may be long term. These are things that we have to be aware of.
We have some children who are frightened and hesitant to go to the visitation center and are resistant and those are always challenging situations. We have other children, the boys who have bonded with their dad, who can't wait to see their dad and look up to him and those are really challenging circumstances when you are doing supervision.
The system is only as strong as its weakest link. You can be a brilliant judge, you can have a really good supervised visitation center, but if you don't have your police service or you police department on board with taking breaches seriously, if you don't have your prosecutor's office trained and aware, if you don't have counseling services that don't breach people and report lack of compliance, then you are really putting individual victims and children in danger. The system is only as strong as its weakest link.
If you look at, all of you who run supervised visitation centers should be familiar with Jackie Campbell's work, just as by way of background, in terms of staff training, just being aware of what are all of the risk factors. These are from the danger assessment scale: used or threatened with a weapon, threatened to kill, chocked or strangled, violently and constantly jealous, forced to have sex when not wanted, guns in the house, partner controlled most or all of the woman's activities, drunk every day or almost every day, illicit drug use, are some of the most common risk factors to be aware of.
Let me just for a moment talk about forced to have sex when not wanted. This is a big issue. The world is always changing. Years ago, if you were a school system and you were worried about bullying, you just worried about what you saw on the playground, now if you're running a school system you have to worry about cyber bullying. It is not what happens between nine o-clock and three o-clock, it's what happens on the weekends and evenings in terms of how the Internet is being used, how kids annoy and harass each other. One in three girls who is in a dating relationship where she is abused reports getting 30 text messages an hour not just asking her about her wellbeing.
We are talking about part of the, we have to look at how technology obviously helps us in some ways, but also helps abusers in terms of looking at different kinds of patterns of behavior. When I refer to this also, think about how technology has changed in terms of what people are exposed to.
The most common consumers of pornography now are young men 12 to 17. Every year there are 13,000 new titles of pornography developed, 13,000 new titles, in Hollywood there is 600 new movies, yet the pornography industry produces 13,000 new movies, let alone all of the things that are downloadable from the Internet. If you think about how that effects normal and healthy relationships, because a lot of pornography is not about equality, it is not about respect, it's not going to make you a better intimate partner. Most pornography is about abuse and control.
What are the principles that guide us, and maybe this comes back to the earlier point about "are you for men or for women," because you are always going to be asked. It's impossible to be involved in the family court without being asked to be on one team or another, or one side or another, and at the end of the day, the team we're on, we're all on the same team that we don't condone domestic violence. We don't condone abuse.
Clearly, we are always working on one and two in terms of protecting children and protecting the victim parent. We also have to protect the right of the adult victim to direct their own lives, to move on with their lives and we get into very complex issues as to being able to move away which are very complicated legal issues. We are also involved in holding perpetrators accountable for their abusive behavior.
At the end of the day most of us know what to do, most of us can develop a good blueprint, but there are so many things that get in the way. The big issues are barriers to getting the right services at the right time. Our community would drive ourselves crazy trying to get a space in the supervised visitation center, get a space in the batter's program, get a space for the child therapist. In most cases, you have to have the sun and the moon and the stars all line up, and people to have the right resources, to get everything put together.
I'm not sure if that is your experience, but sometimes you're always working with makeshift, working with the lesser of many evils, but the reality is to actually get services in place and sequence them. People come to court and they are waiting for a batterer's program, and they tell the judge, "Well, I'm on the list for the program, can I have my access, can I have my visits?" The answer in my view should be, "No. You've got a problem; you have to deal with it. Once you actually acknowledge the problem and you complete the program then we can consider organizing the visits, but until then they are going to be supervised or there are no visits."
So, getting the services sequenced, getting agencies to share information, that is something that drives most of us crazy getting somebody in one center to communicate with another center. So, in many ways you need to have some sort of case manager with many of these various complex cases. It is not like people go to court once and it is over, with some of these really difficult cases you are in court for five, six, seven years until the kids are in high school, and then beyond when they might be fighting over college tuition. In terms of sorting through what the plan is, the plan you may have for a child in kindergarten may look quite different than a plan you have for a child that is in grade six.
I just want to close by talking about the fact that we know an awful lot today compared to 30 years ago, but today we know a lot more, even though we still ask some really good questions. I guess I really want to leave you with the thought that you really can't give up hope around these issues. We have to work together in communities, especially in very difficult economic times, to make sure that we have the right resources to support the family courts and the difficult job they do; we have to have the right resources together to help families in crisis; we have to commit ourselves both to training to some of the standards; we have to get those resources to parents; and we have to start applying the right research to the right cases.
More and more I use that as an example, Jan Johnson, years ago when she talked about high conflict cases, said that the biggest problem is that we have sort of this general knowledge about it's good for parents to have a relationship with both of their parents and they should be friends forever. But, you cannot apply that research when it comes to domestic violence because you have very different research you need to look at in terms of the impact of domestic violence not only on children, but also on victims as parents and also on perpetrators as parents.
At the end of the day, you really need genuine collaboration. Obviously all of you, to work effectively you must have a table in your office with 10 seats to make sure that all of the people in your community you need to work with can be there together with you. It seems like a tall order, and many people accuse me of being a dreamer. How can we manage in this economy? I want to encourage you never to give up hope. We need to work together on behalf of the families that we serve.
In the name and the words of one of your famous political leaders and famous author, "There's people who see the world the way it is and ask why, and other people who dream about the way the world could be and ask why not." I want you to keep asking, "why not." Why can't we be the very best we can be for our families and work together to develop new interventions and somehow find ways to end violence in our communities?