'All Over Now?' The Ongoing Relational Consequences of Domestic Abuse through Children's Contact Arrangements

Fiona Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The issue of child contact and domestic abuse has gained significant attention in recent years. Research highlights that domestic abuse may not end at the point of separation and the presence of children has been found to be a risk factor for continued abuse. This has raised questions about whether contact in the context of domestic abuse is safe for children and for women. This article presents findings from a qualitative study with 18 children aged eight to 14 years and 16 mothers who had experienced domestic abuse in Scotland. Participants were recruited from domestic abuse support services in both the voluntary and statutory sectors. The research found evidence of the continued abuse of women and children following parental separation that was linked to contact arrangements. Children's contact with their non-resident fathers often took place amidst an absence of parental communication and cooperation, which was traced to domestic abuse. This left children responsible for navigating the complex and charged dynamic of their parents' relationship. Children reported this negatively, especially for their relationships with their parents. The article, therefore, highlights the importance of considering the impact of the on-going relational consequences of domestic abuse when considering children's contact arrangements.

‘The presence of children has been found to be a risk factor for continued abuse’

Key Practitioner Messages
Domestic abuse may continue following parental separation, with children's contact becoming a central focus for continued abuse.
Low levels of parental communication and cooperation following separation may be traced to domestic abuse.
Poor parental relations negatively affect child contact.

‘Domestic abuse may continue following parental separation, with children's contact becoming a central focus for continued abuse’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-284
JournalChild Abuse Review
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date27 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • children
  • domestic abuse/violence
  • child contact
  • post-separation parenting

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