On March 22nd and 23rd, the Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative was excited to join over 250 community partners from across the state for “Calling All Heroes: Responding to Violence Against Ohio’s Children.” This unique, professional Summit explored the intersection of child physical and sexual abuse and domestic violence, provided insight into the perpetrator psyche, and paved the way toward solutions with Ohio-centered break-out discussions and presentations focused on survivors and turned-around cases.
Day 1 kicked off with a morning keynote address from Lundy Bancroft, internationally renowned domestic violence expert and best-selling author of five books, including The Batterer as Parent. Bancroft discussed what he has learned in his 30+ years of working with abusive men and their families and the strategies batterers use to discredit victims and to manipulate service providers and the courts. Anna Salter, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and best-selling author and expert on sexual predators and victimization, continued the day’s focus on perpetrators by sharing findings from her forensic interviews with serious offenders, particularly child sex offenders.
Day 2 centered on the experience of child victims and began with a heartening talk on the unique experiences of African American survivors and importance of culturally appealing and engaging services by CeCe Norwood, author, trainer, award-winning CASA volunteer, and Founder of Nirvana Now!, an organization dedicated to the eradication of all forms of sexual violence. Mark Everson, PhD, Professor and Director, Program on Child Trauma and Maltreatment, UNC Chapel Hill, addressed the Child Sexual Abuse Disclosure War—the bitter dispute and back-and-forth over the past few decades over the nature of sexual abuse disclosure and best practice in child forensic interviewing. The final speaker of the Summit was Joyanna Silberg, PhD, Executive Vice-President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence and Senior Consultant, Child and Adolescent Trauma, Sheppard Pratt Health System. Silberg shared the results of her case analysis of 27 turned-around custody cases involving child abuse.
The Summit was designed for leaders and key stakeholders from the courts, child welfare, law enforcement, behavioral health, victim and survivor advocacy, and state government. Break-out sessions facilitated multi-disciplinary discussions of the issues that arose throughout the event. One central takeaway is that we haven’t made as much progress as we had hoped we would by now in addressing child victimization. Our systems still lack capacity, funding, and expertise to effectively identify and serve victims and to recognize and undercut perpetrators’ manipulative tactics. Of course, we at the Ohio IPV Collaborative do see a bright spot in Safe & Together's expanding role in the state and believe the Safe & Together Model of practice will continue to play a crucial role in addressing Ohio families impacted by violence. This year, the number of county child protective service agencies that have received the trainings in Ohio topped 50. Ohio judges have been trained in the model and the Ohio Supreme Court released a bench card containing the Safe & Together Critical Components. Ohio GALs will also be trained in Safe & Together later in 2018. While there are no clear and easy solutions, the Ohio IPV Collaborative looks forward to staying engaged in this conversation and strategizing how the Summit’s lessons can inform the future of Ohio policy and practice.