Derived from practice-based work, this presentation explores the relationship between coercive control and maternal alienation. Ten divorced Dutch mothers participated in-depth interviews about becoming alienated from one or more of their children after divorce. Thematic analysis focused on relational dynamics. Two main themes emerged: coercive tactics by the ex-partner and their malignant influence on their children, and mothers‘ experiences when they sought support from professional service providers. An examination of tactics and consequences reveals how one parent can gain dominance over the other’s parent-child contact and quality of life, by positioning the children to influence decisions over their upbringing; and how, from the perspective of the targeted parent, children respond to these controlling tactics. Data analysis revealed how dominant partners sabotage relationships between the other partner and their children by employing a pattern of coercive tactics. The interviews also revealed how professionals respond in ways that are often ineffective and sometimes blatantly unjust, as when professionals assume that the two partners have equivalent power when in fact the power relationship is asymmetrical. In that situation, the targeted partners can lose direct and even indirect contact with their children. Professionals often lose sight of the needs of children in overlooking domestic violence. And they do not distinguish between the voice of the child and the best interests of the child.
In the general population, sex (being male) remains the single best predictor of crime and violence. However, it is widely recognized that a considerable proportion of societal violence is undocumented and women’s violence is more likely to be inflicted against family members. Contrary to widely held beliefs, the assumption that Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) reflects a dyad involving a female victim and a male perpetrator of IPV or one-off events involving abnormal, extremely deviant women is not supported by large scale studies and systematic reviews. In fact, research demonstrates considerable gender parity in the rate, severity, and risk of injury of male/female perpetrators of IPV. Research further demonstrates that children in homes where IPV takes place are at greater risk of negative outcomes secondary to witnessing IPV compared to their peers. Compared to children in the general population, children growing up in homes with IPV are also more likely to also be the direct victims of abuse themselves, and that this involves both male and female caregivers. IPV is a pressing public health problem that is best understood to reflect psychopathology versus patriarchy. The implication is that decision-making should reflect structured, individualized assessments to identify risks and needs and direct evidence informed care.
When people and professionals think about domestic violence, they typically think about male perpetrators and female victims. They also think that even when the behaviors involved are the same, a female victim is likely to suffer more than a male victim, and that a male perpetrator is more responsible for his behavior than a female perpetrator is for hers. However, studies of heterosexual relationships have documented that in about half of all cases of physical violence, both partners are violent; in about 25% of cases, the male partner is violent, and in about 25% of cases, the female partner is violent. This presentation will focus on several studies Emily Douglas and I have conducted on male victims of female-perpetrated domestic violence. Our research shows that men can be “battered” in their relationships much more than is acknowledged in the literature, and that male victims suffer from mental and physical health problems at rates that are similar to female victims. This presentation will also document the potential mental and physical health impact on male victims and their children, particularly when men’s attempts at seeking help are rebuked. We will then turn to the issue of false accusations: Our research shows that women are more likely to levy false accusations at their significant other than are men. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the implications of this work on shared parenting plans.
This presentation focuses on experiences of male victims of partner abuse (PA) who have children in the abusive relationships. It draws on the results of the international qualitative study of male victims in four English-speaking countries. Eighty three percent of the men (n=34) from the total 41 men in the study reported on their experiences with family court and/or child protective services in relation to their children. The majority of the men found the institutional response to the abusive incidents involving them and their children unhelpful. Three themes were identified across the countries: nonresponsive and indifferent structure, “stacked against me” or gendered enterprise, and parental alienation. The few men who experienced a helpful response from family court and/or child protective services believed they “lucked out.” Two different tones of the reporting by men were identified: active position (being in a constant “custody battle”) and learned helplessness (a defeatist tone, feeling tired of fighting and hopeless). Shared parenting was not a reality for the majority of the men in the study as they fought to have at least some contact with their children and tried to protect children from the abusive mothers. The implications of the findings for developing more gender-inclusive and male-friendly legal regulations of child custody and access are discussed.
Trust matters. After you’ve been hit, hurt, how do you feel about that person having care of your children? While a significant literature extolls the benefits of shared parenting, this paper explores what these limits are including through some reflections from single mother interview data. Conceptually examined through the often-competing lenses of hope and trust, these analyses frame the issues and considerations differently than through the more usual assessments of risk. Thus, explored are the mother’s feelings of broken trust but perhaps their continued hope and the resulting implications for supporting their ex-partner as a co-parent.