Webinar presenter Andrew Campbell answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Domestically Violent Homes: Threats of Harm for Children. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: How many counties are participating in your study today? Are they all from Indiana and would you be interested in working with any other counties in any other state?
Andrew Campbell: Literally my mission here and why I launched this organization is I want to reach as many people as I possibly can. I drive from my own personal experience and remembering what it felt like at fourteen to have someone tell me, “just don’t kill yourself” and my passion is very real on figuring out ways to get to these homes as quickly as possible so, absolutely, I’m very much looking to expand it. I’m partnering with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana to look at those six communities I referenced that really don’t have to charge first responders at a dime for the work they are doing for them. Obviously, they are already strained on resources and we want to help so we don’t want to create further strain but I am absolutely looking to expand it. I think I’ll be receiving animal data at least from 20 of Indiana’s 92 counties which is pretty big. It’ll be much larger than anything out there and I’m absolutely looking to expand into as many states as possible. I would say that my e-mail is there and please follow up with me and I want to picture what’s going on. Absolutely I would like to expand.
Audience Question: What has the jurisdiction needed you to be able to participate in your study?
Andrew Campbell: So essentially for most of these communities just whatever form getting me the data sometimes it looks really different I really need to sign a release for public record data or things like that but I can really take it from there even from just getting raw data and I can do all the analysis on my own so it’s pretty simple but I know electronic systems don’t make anything simple so whether it’s a spreadsheet or whether it is a PDF somehow if you had a way to get it to me I can take it from there so I try to make it simple as possible.
Audience Question: Do you find that most children have grown up in a violent home suffer from PTSD? Are they also drawn into similar relationships today and inadvertently recreating the situation in their later life not being aware but to find out when they begin their first new relationship?
Andrew Campbell: Absolutely and that’s why I say often when we see violent offenders leaving a home right? A relationship truly ending I think our tendency can be to think that we have won something and that’s true and that’s what the success to celebrate. Obviously, our work is just the beginning both for the adult and the child in these homes that we don’t teach them that this relationship that has been modeled to them for so long is not appropriate, right? They’re just going to grow up with this expectation that the violence they witnessed and the abusive relationships they witnessed is what’s the norm and that’s accepted. And so you know obviously children don’t know what they don’t know particularly in younger ages, children may just be replicating behaviors without even really understanding what they’re doing and so whether it’s through play or other things like that so if we can get in there as early as possible, helping see that that is not an appropriate expectation for relationship help affirm themselves. Again, I said maybe the kids in these homes just feel like their life doesn’t matter so it’s targeting those types of things, teaching them what is acceptable and appropriate in a relationship that we can stop that from happening. The other reality of PTSD absolutely is that a lot of studies out there show children systematically do show signs of PTSD often having trouble sleeping, reliving moments or things they’ve witnessed long after it happened. So again we’re looking at often being in significant need of mental health services to help them with some of those things and help them work through those things.
Audience Question: Given that history of pet abuse is so critical in determining the risk in an IPV incident, what is the best way to uncover that history of animal abuse?
Andrew Campbell: I think victims, just from my opinion, obviously put up walls over certain questions that they may be hesitant providing a truthful response to. For reasons obviously, they are often concerned for their own safety and other children. I’m not so sure that they completely necessary understand the connotations of animal abuse at this point. I think that they could be potentially more likely to share that information if asked. And fortunately, many times we don’t have to but people do have they get not to understate the connection that they feel with their children but there is this connection with animals. Victims are maybe more likely to disclose information there and again we are just not asking. I will state that it’s very important to ask about a history of animal abuse, thinking of that individual on intake to ask if she’s had a pet and she said no and the other question was not followed up on later we found she say no because her two beagles were killed by the perpetrator two weeks before the intake. So again it’s very important to ask history of animal abuse because we are really looking at whether it’s occurred in the past because unfortunately many of these animal abusers if they say they were going to do it even more so than other forms of abuse, if they say they’re going to do it, they will do it. We’ll often see these animals being killed and then no longer being in the picture so we want to know about that history of abuse of animals.
Audience Question: What suggestions do you have for law enforcement to corroborate emotional abuse?
Andrew Campbell: Very difficult to be honest. I think there’s a huge barrier that we’re still facing particularly in the courtroom but I think we are working our way there. For that individual, I will ask that you e-mail me. I’ll send you all the information that I have. I think one of the big first step is education but we are still far behind on understanding that this emotional injury. Again, obviously we’re concerned on fatal injury and I understand the threat of it physically and sexually. But these emotional injuries are the one that really are psycho-creating. These injuries are the one that children will not recover from without intervention, so in my mind, these emotions, these are often most important. But we’re seeing that fact that they’re not visually symptomatic often making it difficult in the courts. I would send a show that there’s good research in science that show the effect of toxic stress and how that affects these children. We’re also looking at working on tying in this idea of animal abuse because I think that can be effective too. When we look at the types of things, we know the injury is there it’s just how to prove it. If the individual or anyone else is interested please e-mail me and I will send you whatever I have on the topic. I think there’s a lot more work that needs to be done for us to understand these types of injuries and what we’re pushing for during the court systems but I think we are starting to make progress there and I’ll send whatever I have available.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Domestically Violent Homes: Threats of Harm for Children.