January 2019 Newsletter

SAFeR Honored with a Celebrating Solutions Award

The Mary Byron Project, Inc., fostering innovations and strategies to end domestic violence, has named BWJP’s SAFeR program as a recipient of a prestigious 2018 Celebrating Solutions Award. This is the sixteenth year for the annual recognition, which showcases innovations that demonstrate promise in breaking the cycle of intimate partner violence (IPV).

The SAFeR program is an innovative approach to decision-making in child custody cases involving IPV. In an effort to improve the legal system’s response to children exposed to IPV, BWJP created the SAFeR approach which consists of four parts: (1) screening for IPV; (2) assessing the full nature and context of IPV; (3) focusing on the effects on IPV on parenting, co-parenting, and the best interests of the child; and (4) responding to the lived experience of IPV in all family court recommendations, decisions, and interventions. SAFeR is designed to transform local family court systems that are not ideally organized to respond to IPV into ones that produce safer, more workable outcomes for battered parents and their children. 

To date, the Mary Byron Project, Inc., located in Louisville, KY, has awarded over $1 million to innovative programs in 30 states. Local and national experts help select programs they believe serve as models for the nation. Each winning program receives $10,000 in unrestricted funds.

For further information about SAFeR , click here.

BWJP Releases New SAFeR Mediation Discussion Guide 

BWJP is pleased to announce the release of a specialized practice guide on mediation. The SAFeR Mediation Discussion Guide is designed to help survivors, advocates, attorneys, mediators, judges, and others talk about whether a case is appropriate for mediation and, if so, how mediation can be structured to account for the nature, context, and effects of IPV.

The SAFeR Mediation Discussion Guide is the newest addition to the SAFeR system of practice guides for family court professionals and parties. It encourages survivors and the professionals working with them to discuss a range of factors that affect the decision to mediate, including safety, autonomy, informed consent, and fairness. It prompts a conversation about the parties’ readiness and capacity to mediate in the context of their lived experience of IPV, and the precautions that should be put in place if the survivor decides to move forward with mediation.  

The SAFeR Mediation Discussion Guide starts with the premise that survivors are in the best position to decide whether and under what circumstances they would be willing to mediate the terms of a parenting plan with their abuser. The decision to mediate is complicated and involves considering a wide range of factors that are unique to each case. Those factors include obvious things like whether it is physically safe to mediate, whether the parties stand on even footing when it comes to shared decision-making, and whether the survivor has the physical stamina and emotional fortitude to engage with the abuser. The decision to mediate involves other less obvious factors as well; for instance, is the abuser capable of putting the child’s needs above their own? Is the abuser willing to compromise and hear the survivor out? Can the abuser make decisions that are in the child’s best interests? Will the abuser stand by their promises and agreements? 

In addition, survivors must consider whether mediation is likely to result in a safe and workable outcome for themselves and their children. They need to think about what they give up by mediating, including whatever protections they would be accorded under the law, as well as the right to present evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, submit their case to a judge, and file an appeal. The SAFeR Mediation Discussion Guide walks survivors and professionals through a conversation about these important topics.

The SAFeR Mediation Discussion guide is part of the SAFeR system of tools that focuses on screening, assessing, and responding to people’s lived experience of domestic abuse in civil cases. For more information on SAFeR , click here. A copy of the mediation guide is available here.

SAFeR Guide: Accounting for Abuse in Orders for Protection

Staff from BWJP's National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit and the SAFeR program collaborated to create the SAFeR Accounting for Abuse in Orders for Protection guide. This guide is designed to help survivors, advocates, attorneys, and judges consider the range of behaviors the respondent has engaged in – from physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and spiritual abuse to coercive control.

To view the SAFeR Accounting for Abuse in Orders for Protection guide, click here.