NAAP Founders and Directors
Negotiating with an abusive man can be perilous. You may feel intimidated by him in the mediation process itself; I just recently spoke with a woman who described how her ex-partner yelled and swore at her right in front of the mediator, who neither did anything to stop him nor mentioned his conduct in her report. You may also feel pressured to agree to a plan that you aren’t comfortable with in fear that the judge will end up ordering something even worse if you don’t reach an agreement. There is no easy answer to these challenges. In a few courts, mediators are available who have been trained on domestic abuse, and some may even follow special protocols, as they should, when dealing with an alleged abuser. You should have the right not to be involved in face-to-face negotiations with a man who has abused you, but state laws and court policies don’t always respect that right.
Children need protection from their abusive parents. In the realm of custody litigation which involves abuse, the abusive parent tends to be the father while the protective parent is usually the mother, because most perpetrators of domestic violence and of child sexual abuse are male. We don’t know that much about what happens to protective fathers, since their cases are much less common, but we know that protective mothers frequently encounter a system that is insensitive, ignorant about the dynamics of abuse, and biased against women. In this context, mothers sometimes find themselves being forbidden by the court from protecting their children from a violent, cruel, or sexually abusive father. And this outcome is a tragic one, for children and for their mothers.
The mounting social and professional awareness of the negative effects on children of exposure to the behavior of batterers has drawn attention to the need for effective tools for assessing risk to children from batterers as parents or guardians (e.g. Williams, Boggess, & Carter, 2001). Such tools are particularly needed by child protective personnel, custody evaluators, and courts with jurisdiction over child custody and child welfare cases, but are also important to the work of many therapists, battered women’s service providers, batterer intervention programs, and programs for children exposed to batterers.
In I Still Love You, Dr. Ungar teaches parents the nine things their kids need in order to thrive. To help you put his advice into practice, we’ve created a set of cue cards that you can download, print, and carry with you or display in your home. Referring to them often will help you remember what you can do to make children change troubling behaviours and be more resilient.
Dr. Michael Ungar talks about his book I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents in this video introduction
This book for parents of children with serious emotional, psychological and behavioural challenges offers nine practical and effective strategies that parents can use to make children change troubling behaviours and become more resilient. Told as the story of three families that meet together weekly with Dr. Ungar at his office, each family’s struggles and successes are proof that with a little guidance and the power of unconditional love, any child can be helped to heal and reconnect. Continue reading “Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents”
Here, in brief, is how the survival-oriented acute stress response operates. Accurately or not, if you assess the immediately menacing force as something you potentially have the power to defeat, you go into fight mode. In such instances, the hormones released by your sympathetic nervous system—especially adrenaline—prime you to do battle and, hopefully, triumph over the hostile entity. Conversely, if you view the antagonistic force as too powerful to overcome, your impulse is to outrun it (and the faster the better). And this, of course, is the flight response, also linked to the instantaneous ramping up of your emergency biochemical supplies—so that, ideally, you can escape from this adversarial power (whether it be human, animal, or some calamity of nature).
So where, in what you perceive as a dire threat, is the totally disabling freezeresponse? By default, this reaction refers to a situation in which you’ve concluded (in a matter of seconds—if not milliseconds) that you can neither defeat the frighteningly dangerous opponent confronting you nor safely bolt from it. And ironically, this self-paralyzing response can in the moment be just as adaptive as either valiantly fighting the enemy or, more cautiously, fleeing from it. Continue reading “Have you ever been so paralyzed by fear that you simply dissociated from it all?”
F3 or the Fight-Flight-Freeze response is the body’s automatic, built-in system designed to protect us from threat or danger. For example, when you hear the words, “look out!” you may be surprised to find how fast you move, and thankfully so, as you narrowly miss a flying puck sailing through your kitchen window! Or when you see a bear on the trail up ahead, you stop and remain quiet and still until it moves on. In both scenarios your system demonstrates its effectiveness at protecting you from danger. Continue reading “Fight-Flight-Freeze”
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