Stanley, Nicky, Miller, Pam and Richardson-foster, Helen
Engaging with Children's and Parents' Perspectives on Domestic Violence.
Child and Family Social Work, 17
ISSN 1356-7500 (paper); 1365-2206 (online)
This paper reports research undertaken in two sites in England which captured the views of parents and young people who had experienced domestic violence. Survivors, perpetrators and young people described feelings of guilt and shame that acted as barriers to the disclosure of domestic violence. They identified a range of effects on children, which continued beyond separation.
All three groups of participants valued professionals who listened to them and validated their accounts. Professionals who appeared ineffective in the face of domestic violence could reinforce children's and victims' own sense of powerlessness. Mothers wanted support with managing the effects of separation and assistance with contact arrangements. The research identifies the need for practitioners to engage with the emotional content of disclosure of domestic violence and to undertake this work in separate sessions with parents and with children so that differing accounts can be heard safely. Interventions that enable parents to engage with children's experiences of domestic violence appear valuable. Rather than taking separation as the end-point of intervention, social work needs to take account of the dynamics of separation and contact in parents' relationships and consider how they interact with violence and abuse to impact on children and young people.