Prosecution in context includes connecting the victim with intensive, ongoing advocacy services, expanding the response to greater flexibility in response to the victim’s needs and increasing communication and coordination with private advocates, community agencies and other support providers.Pay close attention to the victim’s goals, priorities and interests in order to respond in a flexible manner to her safety concerns while at the same time ensuring perpetrator accountability
What practitioners say
Consistent with literature
Formation or joining community support groups or safety nets: Domestic violence victim support groups have been established in several communities in Northern Uganda where women watch over each other. In one of the communities in Gulu, women have whistles to alert the rest of the group members in case of a domestic violence incident; when one of them blows the whistle, they all come to her rescue, this has enhanced women’s safety in this community.
Using a rights-based approach to empower victims of domestic violence especially women to speak out and demand for support services: Many non-government and community-based organizations have adopted this approach and consequently enabled women to demand for protection of victims whenever domestic violence incidents in their community are unaddressed. Women are also able to challenge policies, laws and services that are not responding to their needs. This has often resulted into leaders and law enforcers stepping up services or visiting the community to publicly caution perpetrators and commit to supporting victims, such action has sometimes deterred domestic violence and enhanced victim safety at community level.
Other suggested practices
Utilising community driven initiatives/solutions to handle domestic violence cases: Examples of such initiatives include the Bataka model in Kagadi, locally established cultural structures in Gulu and clan meetings that are used to resolve domestic disputes in several communities in the Central, Eastern and Western parts of Uganda. Practitioners say that sometimes they refer cases of domestic violence to these structures especially when the victim does not want to take an adversarial approach. These informal structures have sometimes promoted collective responsibility and ownership of both the issue and solutions and made the family and community accountable for the victim’s safety.
- Even when a domestic violence case is being pursued in the formal justice system, involving the family or immediate community in its resolution may help to secure victim safety. However, it must be done with caution to avoid breach of confidentiality and to guard against reinforcing gender and power inequalities between men and women. Bringing the family and community on board is important because often they are the first point of contact when the victim is seeking help and it is important to equip them with the right information and skills to support the victim during and after the case
Resources and Methodology
- Most plausible interventions
- PICO question
- Search strategy
- Assessment and grading of evidence
The three main sources used for this particular subject are:
Matthew R. Sanders, W. Kim Halford and Brett C. Behrens, Parental Divorce and Premarital Couple Communication (1999) Tamara D. Afifi, Tara McManus, Susan Hutchinson and Birgitta Baker, Inappropriate Parental Divorce Disclosures, the Factors that Prompt them, and their Impact on Parents’ and Adolescents’ Well-Being (2007) Paul Schrodt and Tamara D. Afifi, Communication Processes that Predict Young Adults’ Feelings of Being Caught and their Associations with Mental Health and Family Satisfaction (2007)
The article by Sanders, Halford and Behrens is based on a detailed observational analysis of couples’ interaction. The article by Afifi, McManus, Hutchinson and Baker bases its findings mostly on clinical and empirical evidence. The article by Schrodt and Afifi uses both empirical and meta-analysis to support its findings. According to the HiiL Methodology: Assessment of Evidence and Recommendations, the strength of this evidence is classified as ‘low’ to ‘moderate’.
It is important to note that, based on uncertainty reduction theory, children need some information about the separation in order to reduce their uncertainty about the state of their family (Afifi, McManus, p. 80).Undesirable outcomes
Research has shown that parents’ inappropriate disclosures give children psychological distress, physical ailments and feelings of being caught between their parents (Afifi, McManus, p. 79). Examples of inappropriate information are: negative information about the other parent (including complaints on lack of child-support), sensitive information and information judged not to be suitable (such as on financial issues, the reason for separation and personal concerns of the parent), and information that makes children feel caught between their parents (Schrodt, p. 209).
If children are completely uninformed about the separation, they can feel deceived, which can produce mistrust, diminished satisfaction with their parental communication, and a fear of establishing committed romantic relationships upon maturity (Afifi, McManus, p. 80). It can be difficult to for some parents to determine the fine line between disclosing the right amount of information and inappropriate information.
Balance of outcomes
In determining whether actively limiting disclosure of information to children about the other parent is more effective than sharing all information for their well-being, the desirable and undesirable outcomes of both interventions must be considered. The available literature suggests that certain information is not to be disclosed for the sake of the wellbeing of the child. In particular, revealing negative information about one parent would have severe negative effect physically and psychologically in both the long and short term. This type of information is classified as ‘inappropriate’. However, it is important to keep in mind that children should be informed during the separation process.Recommendation
In light of the undesired outcomes of revealing inappropriate information to children, we make the following recommendation: For the well-being of children, it is appropriate that parents disclose information on the separation, albeit in a considered and limited way.