I attended the launch of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) on April 24, 2014. AFCC describes itself as “the premier interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.” It advocates respect and the empowerment of families so they decide their own futures without conflict.
AFCC strives for developing peaceful means out of extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, but not just for parents and their children. For the system as well. Arnold Shienvold, one of the speakers, is a psychologist who has devoted his career to pioneering and promoting family and system wellness. Dr. Schienvold offered several ways to understand the dynamics of conflict in families. It’s certain there are more, but here are a few. There is “coercive control” where the victim’s liberty, freedom and self worth are entirely taken away through overt acts of violence or threats of violence. Another is “conflict instigated” where an event like infidelity or hiring onto a job causes an eruption. A third is “non-coercive controlling” which consists of frequent low-level assaults combined with nonviolent tactics. for example, limiting basic necessities, being told how to dress or cook or clean the house, or being cut off from the outside world. The point is that there is no single way to view and understand family conflict. And there is no single way to heal from the affects of violence and abuse. We can’t just walk away, however. Healing through learning and understanding begins the process. This is essential for families to break the cycle and to then make room to thrive in our society.