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Domestic Violence Symposium


Symposim Speakers-Rosemary Hays-Thomas, Jackie White,  Robert Rotunda and Susan Walch
Speakers Rosemary Hays-Thomas, Jackie White, Robert Rotunda and Susan Walch

A symposium on clinical and workplace aspects of Domestic Violence (DV) was co-sponsored by the Social Policy Committee of the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area and the Center for Applied Psychology at the University of West Florida on Friday, January 29 at IHMC. An audience of more than 65 professionals, students and League members received an advanced level of education in five training sessions. Social workers, psychologists, and other professionals were able to earn continuing education credit for licensure through their attendance at the event.

Keynote speaker Jacquelyn White, PhD, co-editor of Violence against women and children: Consensus, critical analysis and emergent priorities, volume I and II (in press), drew upon the expert contributors to present the current knowledge in the areas of child maltreatment, sexual and physical violence. Dr. White, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, touched on the scope of the problem and its devastating short and long term consequences. Interpersonal, community and societal risk and protective factors were identified. The need for improved definitions, assessments methods and theories that have implications for prevention, intervention and treatment was discussed. (The local social policy committee will select the area of concentration for their work next year.)

Susan E. Walch, PhD and Robert J. Rotunda, PhD, addressed Routine Screening, Assessment, and Triage for Domestic Violence in General Clinical Practice. Walch reported that mortality rates may not have declined, but an improvement is seen in individuals as a function of routine screening for DV. Mortality rates may not reflect effectiveness of screening if providers forget to document, experience discomfort, lack training in how to screen, experience time constraints or lack of privacy, and are concerned that records may end up in court, or that resources for victims may be unavailable. Other factors may be mandated requirements or concern over shifts to electronic medical records. Rotunda pointed out that in working with couples, violence is a choice, but escalates within two hours, if alcohol or drugs are involved. In working with a client, he focuses on the future, not on the past. Drs. Rotunda and Walch are faculty members in the Department of Psychology at the University of West Florida.

Nancy S. Hagman, M Ed, LMHC, and Jennifer Paveglio, MSW, LCSW, of Lutheran Services of Florida jointly addressed The Impact of Domestic and Sexual Violence on Children with an experiential learning technique. Ground rules were laid down at the beginning: No questions or interruptions were to be allowed. A continual dialogue between Hagman and Paveglio revealed three ways children are impacted by domestic and/or sexual violence, research on brain development of children that experience domestic and/or sexual violence and the impact of domestic violence on potential sexual offenders. The audience reacted strongly to being put in a situation typical for a child in a DV environment.

Shawn Fitzpatrick, LCS, who has been conducting batterer’s groups with men for nine years, brought to life Those Who Batter: Focus on Treatment or Treatment Modalities for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence. Fitzpatrick, who currently provides clinical services at NAS Whiting Field, began by stating that “Why” is a trap. Domestic Violence is a learned behavior. Groups are about setting boundaries and holding them. “Abuse is abuse.” Fitzpatrick noted that female offender groups do not work the same as male groups for there are cultural and gender differences. Women will tell exactly what they did; men deny because “cops lie.”

Rosemary Hays-Thomas, Ph.D., SPHR, a licensed psychologist specializing in industrial/ organizational and social psychology dealt with management issues concerning workplace diversity and with employment issues of special concern to women. She spoke on Domestic Violence and the Workplace: What Managers and Colleagues Should Know. Information was presented about the frequency of domestic violence expressed at work; a discussion of the consequences to employers in terms of tardiness and absenteeism, lost productivity, health and insurance costs, and workplace safety and liability. Warning signs of possible domestic abuse were discussed, including how to broach the topic in the context of both performance management and appropriate workplace supports for employees. The advisability of having policies dealing specifically with domestic violence in the workplace became apparent. Hays-Thomas provided resources for accessing sample policies and further work-related materials.

The participation of Dr. White was made possible through a $1,500 grant from the Marjorie M. Hart Memorial Fund of the League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund. Materials from the presentations will be available through the Center for Applied Psychology at (850) 473-7307.




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