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Conference and a two day training on family violence and the risks to children

On 7th June, Women’s Rights Center organized a conference Family violence and the risks to children – towards a comprehensive solution attended by over 160 participants. The goal of the conference was to enhance protection of children and support to a non-violent parent/guardian, through improvement of knowledge of professionals about the risks and best ways to protect children exposed to family violence. The conference gathered experts, decision makers, representatives of international and civil society organizations, representatives of judiciary, professionals who deal with protection of children, representatives of institutions etc. 

Lundy Bancroft was one of the keynote speakers, expert on family relations with over 25 years of experience in working with violent men and their families, author of the bestseller Why does he do that?. He talked about men who batter, their profiles and tactics. Lecture was drawn from both research and clinical experience to reveal the underlying tactics, behaviors, and attitudes of men who batter women. We found out about the complexity of the battering pattern, with a particular eye to understanding how the abuser manages to be a tyrant at home while escaping detection by the outside world. The lecture also explored how best to work with mothers to facilitate their children’s healing, including how to increase the mother’s ability to protect her children, how to build a working alliance with a mother, and approaches to providing parent guidance.

Second keynote speaker was Ms. Lynne Harne, UK expert, senior lecturer and researcher on violence towards women and children, author of the book Violent fathering and the risks to children. She talked about father’s control of a partner, who are in fact the perpetrators, risks to children post-separation from a violent father, risk identification and assessment in private family proceedings etc. 

And the last keynote speaker was Branka Žigante Živković, judge of High Misdemeanour Court in Croatia, with over 15 years of experience in the Department of Public Security and public peace and order. Her presentation was regarding the legal mechanisms for protection of children from family violence.

At the end of the conference a panel discussion was held on challenges and good practices in the provision of psychosocial and judicial/legal support to children and non-violent parent/guardian with experience of violence in the family environment. Panel was moderated by Tanja Ignjatović, Autonomous Women’s Center’s psychologist from Belgrade and the participants were: Lundy Bancroft, dr. Lynne Harne, Ana Jaredić from Women’s Rights Center and dr.sci. Nevenka Pavlicic, specialist of clinical psychology, permanent expert witness. 

Prior to the conference we made a media campaign, where we presented the lecturers through social networks, their work and accomplishments on the subject in question, as well as appearance on TV Vijesti by Lundy Bancroft where people had the opportunity to call live during the show and ask any questions regarding the family violence, patterns of a batterer, risks to children etc. There was also a live Q&A session for people who were watching our lecturers via Facebook, and it had a great outreach. Participants mainly stated that the overall content and the way of work was better than they expected, and the received information and presentations will be of use in their further practical work.

After the conference, on 8th and 9th of June, a two-day training was held for experts who deal with protection of children and custody issues, expert witnesses, judges whose competence includes practice in cases related to family violence, representatives of institutions who deal with cases of family violence and programs for children exposed to family violence, experts who are trained to work with batterers, lawyers etc. More than 60 representatives of institutions, judges, expert witnesses etc. attended the two-day training. 

The goal of the training was to enhance protection of children and support to a non-violent parent/guardian, through improvement of knowledge of professionals about the risks and best ways to protect children exposed to family violence, focusing on the period after divorce or termination of parents’ relationship, when children are, on the contrary to the widespread assumptions, in greater risk of violence than when their parents lived together. The training provided instruments for assessing the risks to children from violent parents or guardians. Such instruments are especially necessary for the professionals whose competence includes programs for children exposed to violence, practice in cases related to family violence, family relations, children custody etc. The training offered international knowledge in the field of risk assessment after divorce or termination of parents’ relationship and served as an exchange of experience and a discussion with eminent experts in this field. 

Over 60 representatives of institutions, judges, expert witnesses and social workers attended the training. Among the participants there were 6 expert witnesses, 28 judges and the rest were representatives of Centers for social work. Social workers were thrilled with the experience of listening to our lecturers and requested every presentation and additional scripts, also few of them haven’t even heard of the Istanbul Convention so we provided them a hard copy of it. Participants were very interested in the topics the experts developed, the way they explained everything and what their research had to show, so the whole training was interactive and lively. Majority of the participants graded the training as excellent and better than expected. Practically all of them were amazed with the competence of our lecturers, their skills of presentation and with an original approach to the topic. Many of them will be able to use the gained knowledge in their further work.

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