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THE MEDIATOR'S ASSESSMENT OF SAFETY ISSUES AND CONCERNS (MASIC): A SCREENING INTERVIEW FOR INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND ABUSE AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

Authors

  • Amy Holtzworth-Munroe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University
      holtzwor@indiana.edu; beck@u.arizona.edu; aga@indiana.edu
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  • Connie J. A. Beck,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Arizona
      holtzwor@indiana.edu; beck@u.arizona.edu; aga@indiana.edu
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  • Amy G. Applegate

    Corresponding author
    1. Indiana University Maurer School of Law
      holtzwor@indiana.edu; beck@u.arizona.edu; aga@indiana.edu
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holtzwor@indiana.edu; beck@u.arizona.edu; aga@indiana.edu

Abstract

Screening for intimate partner violence and/or abuse (IPV/A) in family mediation is important, perhaps particularly among cases without attorney representation. While most mediators agree that it is ideal to consider IPV/A in case planning, there is less agreement regarding the need to universally and systematically screen for IPV/A among all cases. Such attitudes are of concern, given research in other fields (e.g., medicine, couples therapy) and our own research in a family mediation clinic, which documents that the lack of consistent and formal IPV/A assessment results in underdetection of IPV/A. While a variety of IPV/A screening measures exist, each has shortcomings. Thus, our research and clinical experience led us to develop a new IPV/A screening measure, the Mediator's Assessment of Safety Issues and Concerns (MASIC). We discuss features of the MASIC and provide the full measure in the Appendix. The MASIC is a behaviorally specific IPV/A screen that assesses various types of abuse (e.g., coercive control, stalking, physical violence) over the course of the relationship and in the past year. It is administered as an interview to build rapport and assesses lethality indicators and offers optional recommendations for procedural changes in mediation based on IPV/A. Although we have begun relevant research, it is important to note that the MASIC has not yet been validated. Nonetheless, we recommend the use of systematic IPV/A screens in family mediation and suggest that such measures may prove especially important in providing unrepresented parties a safe and appropriate environment for mediation.

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