Co-occurrence of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

First Witness advocacy training seeks to build a community of advocates who share knowledge, insights, skills and support as they continue their work.


For decades, the system responding to domestic violence has believed that once the battered woman leaves, the violence, power and control ends. But the batterer’s desire and ability to punish and control remains strong. There is a high co-occurrence between child abuse and domestic violence, complicating family reactions, needs and intervening effectively to protect both the children and the mother. We will talk about the 7 Realities for mothers and children after they leave and explore how advocates can change thinking and responses to better assist families facing both DV and child abuse.


First Witness Advocacy creates an advocacy perspective rooted in the experiences of those hurt by violence and abuse. This perspective informs the advocacy practice as well as the policies and job descriptions that define advocates’ roles. It also guides program and organizational development, system interventions and community understanding of the social problems at the root of violence and abuse. With the First Witness Advocacy perspective, advocates and organizations can better respond on both the individual and the societal levels, creating long-term safety for abuse victims and entire communities.

First Witness Advocacy bridges the gap between individual advocacy with one victim and system-based advocacy that creates change for many victims. This is in contrast to more restrictive advocacy models that are based on delivering services identified by practitioners. Through hands-on practice, participants will learn how to put advocacy principles into action, including conducting a focus group to improve programming, changing organizations and systems and creating programs and interventions that meet victims’ needs. Participants will practice skills for effective crisis intervention and advocacy, problem solving and decision making around the toughest issues in advocacy work. They will leave with answers to the following questions:

– “What are my options for advocacy within the system?”
– “How do I make sure the victim’s voice is present in the change I’m seeking?”
– “How does my organization support advocacy-based work?”
– “What gives me credibility as an advocate, and how can I enhance this?”

First Witness advocacy training seeks to build a community of advocates who share knowledge, insights, skills and support as they continue their work.

Participants will:
-Understand the principles of social change advocacy and how to use them in their work
-Understand how societal beliefs and values impact advocacy
-Learn and practice crisis intervention and counseling
-Explore controversial issues in advocacy such as confidentiality, boundaries and neutrality
-Learn how to create system change and facilitate focus groups with families
-Understand the system response to child sexual abuse and the role of an advocate within that response, including criminal and civil court activities
-Learn about how to build child and family resiliency in the face of abuse
-Understand child sexual development and key messages for preventing child sexual abuse
-Learn how to create an advocacy-based organization and a community of advocates

Who should attend:
-Advocates working within domestic violence agencies
-Advocates working within sexual assault agencies
-Directors or managers within domestic violence or sexual assault programs
-Victim witness specialists
-Any advocate working on behalf of survivors of physical and/or sexual violence and/or child abuse

Office of Violence Against Women Grantee Instructions:

The following OVW programs have conditionally approved their grantees to attend this conference.  Grantees are required to contact their OVW program specialist to get approval specific to their award and to ensure that a Grant Adjustment Notice (GAN) is issued. A GAN must be completed before grantees commit or expend any funds related to attending this conference.

Consolidated Youth



State Coalition

Transitional Housing

Tribal Jurisdiction

Grantees from STOP and Justice for Families may be invited to attend this conference and do not have to contact their program manager for prior approval. Grantees who are not required to get prior approval to attend this conference should be advised to place a “memo to the file” in their grant records indicating the conference approval reference number.

The reference number for this conference is OVW-2018-MU-003.This number must be used by grantees when requesting approval via a GAN or in their “memo to the file”. This approval and assigned reference number is for this conference only.

This approval does not approve the use of either the OVW logo or the Department of Justice seal. Under any circumstances should the OVW logo or the Department of Justice seal be used in promotional or other materials without the express written approval of the Department for such use. “


There are two options when flying to Duluth, Minnesota.

1. Fly right into Duluth International Airport (This is the aiport closest to us. It is only a couple miles from the hotel and our training facility. If you fly into Duluth, you will not need to rent a car because the hotel offers free shuttle service to and from the hotel and also to and from the training facility.)

2. Fly into Minneapolis International Airport and take a shuttle to Duluth using one of the following shuttle services:

A. Skyline Shuttle (most convenient scheduling options) (3 hours)

B. Jefferson Lines (5 hours)

3. Fly into Minneapolis International Airport, rent a car and drive to Duluth (two hours and fifteen minutes).

Shuttle service/taxi/car rental
Holiday Inn offers free shuttle service to and from the Duluth International Airport.
If you are flying into the Duluth Airport, there are car rental companies at the airport. A taxi will cost about $25-$30 from the airport. If you have any problems or questions making transportation arrangements, please contact me and I can help sort out a plan.

We have a contract with the Holiday Inn and Suites. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to reserve your hotel. Unfortunately, we cannot give the link befor registration.
Distance: 5 blocks
They offer free covered parking in a convenient and remodeled location. They also offer free shuttle to and from the training (just schedule ahead of time with the front desk for drop off and then you will have to call them to be picked up).

Training Location:
First Witness is located at 4 West 5th Street, in downtown Duluth. If you are driving up the hill, we are on the left on the corner of Lake Avenue and 5th Street. Our building is painted light gray and looks like a dentist office or house. We do not have a sign outside.

First Witness has both an upper and lower parking area. Please park in the lower lot (access through alley) and use the lower entrance that will bring you directly into the training room.

For those needing a no stair access to our building, please use the lower entrance off of the alley. If you need any accommodations as it pertains to reading or hearing aids. With a little notice, we are happy to provide a wide range of supplies and equipment to make this the best learning environment for you.

Nursing mothers:
We are so grateful for nursing mothers that find time to come through our training. We know it is difficult being away from home, especially when you are nursing. Please let us know if you require a private room while visiting us. With a little notice, we are more than happy to set one up.

Meet your trainers:

Jill Abernathey 2015
Beth Olson,
click pic for bio
Jill Abernathey,
click pic for bio