More than 200 professionals from across Western New York are expected to attend the 14th annual Family Violence Intervention Project conference "Safe at Home: Seeking Solutions for Adult and Child Victims of Family Violence" on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls. The conference will feature national and local speakers who train attendees on state-of-the-art techniques to prevent and intervene in cases of child abuse and domestic violence, with the goal of keeping children and families safe.
Of particular note:
•In her 8:45 a.m. keynote address, "Helping Children Thrive by Understanding How They Think and Feel About Domestic Violence," Alison Cunningham, M.A., director of research at the Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System located in London, Ontario, will discuss why domestically violent homes are not healthy places for children to grow up. She will show that by understanding how children are changed by living with domestic violence, we can begin to counter the distorted messages, address problematic emotional states and build healthy coping skills.
Cunningham has authored many training resources on working with abused women and understanding children living with violence against their mothers. Her address will serve as the prelude to a workshop that will address a critical issue in this community - "Designing Interventions with the Mothers of Children Exposed to Domestic Violence."
•The morning plenary session will feature Mike Lew, M.Ed., director of The Next Step Counseling and Training Center. Lew will present "Protecting Our Boys: The Critical Need to Prevent and Address the Sexual Victimization of Males," sharing current perspectives on male sexual victimization and recovery. He will follow up in the afternoon with workshops addressing how male child sexual abuse victims differ from female child sexual abuse victims and how to address professional stress and burnout.
•Afternoon workshops also will be presented by David Heffler, Ph.D., president of Forensic Mental Health Counseling of Western New York, who will discuss normative sexual behaviors and characteristics and distinctions among juvenile sexual abusers, and The Department of Homeland Security, which will present on working with immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual exploitation investigations.
Tuesday's conference is sponsored by the Niagara County Family Violence Intervention Project, Child Advocacy Center of Niagara and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Co-sponsors are the Niagara County Department of Mental Health's trauma treatment specialty services division, Catholic Charities of Buffalo - Niagara County Services and the Northeast Regional Child Advocacy Center.