d.When domestic violence is identified, child welfare workers should collaborate with the victim in evaluating the impact of any recommended service plan strategies on her safety, develop service plans that do not compromise her safety-related needs, and pro-actively assist victims in developing short and long-term safety plans.
The ability of victims to follow through on service plans can be compromised by the actions of their abusive partners. Victims should not be expected to comply with service plans that require them to do things that directly or indirectly endanger them. For example, a service plan activity for a client might be to attend parenting classes. Without the cooperation of her partner, however, a victim may not be able to make the necessary child care arrangements, or her partner may simply threaten her with harm if she attempts to leave the house unaccompanied by him. Abusers are often resistant to their partners' access to outside sources of help or support and may increase their use of violence and threats in order to reestablish control. The consequences of service plans should be evaluated with regard to immediate and long-term safety.
Studies demonstrate that when adult domestic violence and child abuse exist simultaneously, advocating for the safety of all vulnerable victims is the most successful strategy. Child welfare workers should be trained to develop both short and long-term safety plans with both mothers and children. (See Guiding Principles, 1.d.)
e.Child welfare workers should recognize that, at times, the legitimate safety and survival strategies employed by victims (such as resistance, non-compliance, refusal of services, and dishonesty) may conflict with service plan strategies. Service plans should be continually reviewed and modified, as necessary, to reflect a victim's ongoing safety-related needs.
The safety-related concerns of battered women do not necessarily remain constant. As a result, victims may attempt to protect themselves from the violent and coercive acts of their partners in ways that conflict with agreed upon service plans. A victim's use of survival strategies related to safety should be supported and encouraged and not seen as a failure to comply with the service plan, but as an indication that the service plan is in need of review and modification.
Follow through will be most successful if the victim does not have to jeopardize her own safety for the safety of her children. Actively acknowledging the dilemmas created for victims when service plans conflict with their own safety