The term ‘moral injury’ refers to the damage that may occur to an individual's moral conscience and values resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression (Haleigh et al, 2019). Derived from notions of ‘moral distress’ in the 1980s to describe the psychological conflict nurses experienced as a result of structural or ‘institutional’ constraints negating their ability to pursue what they considered to be ‘the right course of action’ (Jameston, 1984), the concept of ‘moral injury’ (Shay, 1998, 2002, 2010) has subsequently evolved as a response to the inadequacy of mental health diagnoses, such as PTSD, to encapsulate the moral anguish military service personal can experience following active duty in conflict zones (Litz et al, 2002) or unaddressed moral distress in healthcare professionals. Unlike PTSD's focus on fear-related symptoms, moral injury focuses on symptoms related to guilt, shame, anger or disgust (Farnsworth, 2014). It has also been posited as a useful model to adapt to family systems (Nash and Litz, 2013), when considering the secondary traumatisation or ‘compassion fatigue’ (Figley 1998) that can arise from the cumulative stress burden of living with and caring for a family member having experienced such trauma. In this presentation, I argue that the concept of moral injury has the potential to offer a useful explanatory model by which to deconstruct and better understand some of the underlying causes of family violence, both mental and physical, that can stem from the oftentimes profound emotional responses to family breakdown experienced by those affected. Such responses may include a sense of betrayal, anger and ‘moral disorientation’ (Tine, 2018), guilt and shame (Litz, 2009) as well as those of grief, sorrow, and regret. I go on to suggest that shared parenting represents one means by which separating families may ameliorate the more detrimental effects of moral injury, not just for parents and their children but for the wider familial and kinship groups to which they belong.
South Africa has some of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. Despite progressive and victim-centric legislation, victims rarely see justice due to severe deficiencies in implementation by criminal justice state actors who fail to provide victims with the protection to which they are entitled under the law. In most cases, victims experience various forms of secondary victimization in their pursuit of justice and have no one to turn to for help when the system fails them. This presentation explores the secondary victimisation experienced by victims of intimate partner violence and the systemic and institutional barriers they face in their pursuit of justice. The presentation also details the integrated model developed by Lawyers against Abuse in response to this problem, designed to strengthen the justice system’s response to gender-based violence by providing legal and psychosocial support to victims, engaging state actors, and empowering communities.
In Central European countries there is to be observed a trend towards increasing number of loss of a parent after separating or at least a significant restriction of the relationship to a parent. The Council of Europe has dealt with this phenomenon in its resolution from 2nd October 2015 “Equality and shared parental responsibility” (2079/2015). In it the Council demands under point 5.9. “encouraging multidisciplinary co-operation based on the ‘Cochem model’ “. The impulse lecture presents the long experience of the co-founder of the Cochem model with its promotion and practice in divorce proceedings. This practice, which is an effective tool that protects children’s interests in conflict situations such as a divorce or separation of their parents, is presented as an interdisciplinary co-operation. It has proven to be very effective for all parties, i.e. the children, parents, judges, attorneys, legal experts, counselling clinics or the departments for the social and legal protection of children. The main goal of the practice is saving children’s relationship to both parents, creating such conditions for the partners, who are getting divorced or separated, to be able to act together as parents. That does not mean it will lead to restoring the family situation before separating, but it will create a new situation, where the parents are willing to make a common decision, where they will consider the best interests and desires of their child. The significance of early intervention during the conflicts of separating parents is explained which, in case it is properly used and with the cooperation of the participating professions/institutions it can prevent not only the escalation of the conflict but also leads to a change in the behavior of the parents in favor of the child’s best interests. To ensure the establishment of the necessary standards for such a practice, and above all, to introduce it, it is essential to establish the legal conditions that would ensure the education of the professions involved in this conflict, and the organization of the individual working places to enable an interdisciplinary networking.
Shared parenting can be problematic when one or both parents fail to resolve their conflicts peacefully, with deleterious consequences for children. Family Courts will order a change in custody if it can be shown that a parent has engaged in some form of family violence. When allegations are credible and supported by the evidence, change in custody may be in the best interests of the child; however, some parents fabricate or exaggerate claims of abuse in order to gain a custody advantage, an example of Legal and Administrative Aggression (LA), which is in itself a form of psychological abuse and coercive control. Unfortunately, family court professionals often make poor decisions, due to an inadequate understanding of the issues. This presentation provides an overview of the current research on family violence as it pertains to child custody cases, and recommendations for family court personnel on how to make custody decisions that are indeed in the “best interests of the child.”
Whereas shared parenting proponents, on the basis of scientific evidence concerning child outcomes in post-separation families, conclude that a rebuttable legal presumption in favour of shared parenting is commensurate with the well-being best interests of the majority of children, women’s advocates have disavowed the notion of shared parenting, arguing that a rebuttable legal presumption against shared parenting best protects women and children in post-separation families. These two presumptions are typically understood to be diametrically opposed recommendations, and the rights and best interests of children on the one hand and abused spouses on the other are set in opposition to each other. This presentation will challenge the notion that these two presumptions are fundamentally opposed, and makes the case that they are in fact complementary; indeed, the rights and needs of children and abused spouses cannot be separated, and it is in the interests of both that family law establishes a criterion of child custody determination that fully addresses the needs for protection of vulnerable parents and children in situations of family violence, while at the same time ensuring that parents’ and children’s needs for meaningful parent-child relationships are equally protected.