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SERVICE PROVIDER PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTIONS: PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP Introduction On February 27, 1995, the Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions convened a workshop in Washington, D.C., for service providers and researchers who are involved in programs designed to treat, control, and prevent different forms of family violence. The workshop was organized to gather perspectives from practitioners as part of the committee's fact-finding process in conducting a comprehensive study on what is known about the effectiveness of treatment and prevention programs for family violence. It consisted of five panels of speakers, and the agenda was designed to inform the further work of the committee by highlighting the experiences and perspectives of service providers who focus on different aspects of family violence interventions. The five panels were child victim services, spousal victim services, elderly and dependent adult victim services, treatment of offenders, and comprehensive services. This proceedings of the workshop includes the speakers' presentations and highlights from the discussions that followed each panel of speakers. The presentations reflect the different orientations of service providers who are based in health, social service, and law enforcement settings. Although most of the intervention programs described in this report have not been subject to research evaluations, the committee decided it would be useful to publish the material because it includes both program descriptions and perspectives that describe the evolution of different forms of family violence interventions. The proceedings has been prepared for the benefit of the committee members, workshop participants, project sponsors, and others who are concerned with the direction and quality of services and programs in the area of child maltreatment, spousal violence, treatment of batterers, and elder abuse. The workshop participants acknowledged the important role that practitioners have played in fostering the development of family violence interventions. In response to recognition of the severity and scope of family violence, legal, health, and social service institutions have established programs for victims, perpetrators, or troubled families. Community-based services, such as battered women's shelter programs, have also been developed by former victims of spousal abuse and grassroots activists. These reforms have not been studied in a systematic manner, however, and information about the implementation and the effectiveness of selected approaches is often difficult to compile. Much of the information regarding the programs that were discussed in the
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SERVICE PROVIDER PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTIONS: PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP workshop does not appear in the research literature, and it is often regarded as “fugitive” material. Evaluating any ongoing social service intervention is methodologically difficult, and this is especially so in the area of family violence, which is characterized by confusion and disagreement about the nature of the problems to be addressed, the outcomes that are desired from intervention programs, and the behaviors that should be studied to assess program effectiveness. This lack of consensus in the field has created barriers for researchers who seek to evaluate selected programs since the basic strategies and processes of the service intervention are often not described in a systematic manner. The purpose of this workshop was to illustrate the variation in the design of family violence interventions by focusing on a small selection of popular programs as well as novel or promising new approaches to intervention. The intervention programs were suggested from a variety of sources, including government sponsors, committee members, research scientists, advocates of selected approaches, and popular and scientific literature. It is important to recognize that the programs that are presented in this volume are not intended to represent a comprehensive review of all types of interventions, nor do they necessarily represent interventions that are exemplars of best practices in program design, evaluation, or outcomes. Any workshop can cover only a part of the field of family violence; some of the important programs or services that are not included in this proceedings are the child protective service system, foster care or residential programs, mediation efforts, and law enforcement agencies. The mix of programs included in this report illustrates the challenges presented to program sponsors, public officials, researchers, and others who wish to know more about program effectiveness in the field of family violence interventions. Some programs explicitly articulate their conceptual framework and program strategies. Others do not. Some programs are guided by research and evaluation studies. Others rely essentially on anecdotal reports as indicators of effectiveness. The goals and objectives of the programs also vary in their focus on victims, offenders, or service providers as the primary clients. They also differ in their selection of direct or indirect measures of behavioral change as a means of determining program success. Some program advocates also make uncritical claims of “success” for their own or others' efforts without the support of empirical evidence that can demonstrate relative effectiveness in comparison with alternative programs. This workshop was part of a larger study by the Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions, which was established within the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine what has been learned from experiences with these programs at the national, state, and local levels. The committee was formed at the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, National Institute of Mental Health, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the U.S. Department of Justice (National Institute of Justice), and the Carnegie Corporation of New York in
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SERVICE PROVIDER PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTIONS: PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP order to develop an assessment of programs that address different aspects of family violence, including child abuse, domestic or intimate violence, and elder abuse. The Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions, part of the Board on Children and Families within the NRC and IOM, initiated this study in August 1994. As part of the study, the committee is also conducting a review of the scientific literature that has evolved in the evaluation of such programs. Earlier NRC studies on violence research, such as Understanding and Preventing Violence (Volumes 1-4) (Reiss and Roth, 1993, 1994a,b; Reiss et al., 1994) and Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect (National Research Council, 1993) have provided an important review of major research studies in this field. In distinguishing family violence from other forms of assault and violent behavior, for example, the NRC Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior observed that because of the continuing relationships among spouses or partners, parents and children, or siblings, violent encounters in family settings can create situations in which victims will be violated repeatedly by the offender. The more powerful offender may threaten the victims with additional violence if the incidents of violence are disclosed to others. Adult victims may avoid disclosure because of fear of stigmatization or denigration, or because of financial, emotional, or physical dependence on the abuser. Child or elderly victims may be too young or vulnerable to disclose their own experiences. The complexity and circuitous nature of family violence, as well as the private settings in which incidents may occur, also decrease the likelihood that such incidents will be observed or reported to others. As a result, interventions in the field of family violence have been difficult to design, implement, and evaluate. In addition to a literature review, the Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions is concerned with the perspectives and experiences of individuals who have been directly involved in the development of service and prevention programs. These perspectives are seen as an important complement to the research review because they highlight the strategies, conceptual frameworks, assumptions, and outcome measures that guide the design and implementation of program efforts. Perspectives from the field can reveal areas where research has informed general practice, areas where research is not available to inform practice, and tensions or conflicts that may exist in the field because of competing or contradictory values or conceptual frameworks. The perspectives of individuals involved in the design or operation of programs can also help enrich research in this area in several ways. They can generate new hypotheses about the nature and origins of family violence, reveal the strengths or limitations of traditional scientific measures, or suggest ways in which general service or policy strategies can be derived from small-scale experiments and demonstration projects. In these proceedings, the committee does not attempt to draw these inferences, but they will be examined in the final report, scheduled for publication in late 1996. Many workshop participants did not demonstrate a strong orientation toward research and, in some cases, they revealed deeply held ideological or value premises rather than theories that could be tested by empirical studies. The workshop discussion
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SERVICE PROVIDER PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTIONS: PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP also suggested that providers often lack the resources to collect and analyze important information on the setting, the goals, the target audiences, and the strategies embedded in the programs they have developed. In publishing these summaries, the committee hopes to stimulate further reflection about the gaps that exist between research and practice in many areas of intervention. Such reflection can provoke an examination of how scientific knowledge may, or may not, guide the development of treatment and prevention programs for family violence. It can also help inform ongoing research efforts by revealing experiences with different types of interventions that appear to challenge prior assumptions or theoretical frameworks and suggest the need to consider new types of interactions in understanding the methods that can discourage or stop family violence. In presenting the summary of this workshop, the committee does not endorse the views, conclusions, or recommendations proposed by individual workshop speakers. The absence of rigorous evaluation studies that support the interventions discussed in this report emphasizes the need to be cautious in reviewing the claims of the providers. It is important to recognize, however, that a broad range of on-going service interventions are already in place that seek to respond to the urgency of the problem of family violence. The providers who seek to treat or prevent child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse cannot wait for definitive evaluations before developing program initiatives. The experiences and insights of the providers, therefore, provide valuable opportunities to gain new insights on topics for which science can help inform the intervention process, as well as opportunities for scientists to learn from the experience of victims and service providers. The committee will present its findings and recommendations in its final report. Contact information is provided for each workshop participant in the Appendix; more information about any program mentioned in this report should be requested directly from the program representative. REFERENCES National Research Council 1993 Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Committee on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Reiss, A.J., Jr., and J.A. Roth, eds. 1993 Understanding and Preventing Violence, Vol. 1. Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Reiss, A.J., Jr., K.A. Miczek, and J.A. Roth, eds. 1994Understanding and Preventing Violence: Biobehavioral Influences, Vol. 2. Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and
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SERVICE PROVIDER PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTIONS: PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Reiss, A.J., Jr., and J.A. Roth, eds. 1994a Understanding and Preventing Violence: Social Influences, Vol. 3. Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Reiss, A.J., Jr, and J.A. Roth, eds. 1994b Understanding and Preventing Violence: Consequences and Control, Vol. 4. Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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