The Family and Criminal Courts need to stop colluding with stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators

Cross-posted from: Rachel Horman
Originally published: 07.04.16

Mandy Dunford has been a victim of serious stalking for almost 10 years and her experience of the Criminal Justice system highlights many of the problems still facing victims of stalking and domestic abuse. The issue was recently featured on BBC Breakfast when both Mandy and I discussed the terrible way in which she and hundreds of other victims are being let down (Click here to watch the interview).

Mandy was treated badly by the police when she reported the stalking with the police failing to take it seriously and one officer even sexually assaulting her when he went to see her. The police failed to take appropriate action and Mandy felt – like many stalking victims – that her only option was to investigate the matter herself and gather her own evidence so she was forced to set up CCTV cameras. We don’t expect victims of other crimes to do this yet it happens constantly to victims of stalking. It is what we pay our police to do. Stalking victims will have experienced on average over 100 incidents before they even make a report to the police so it is vital that this crime is taken seriously particularly when you consider that 1:2 domestic abuse stalkers will carry out the threats they make and that the vast majority of domestic violence homicides involve stalking. It is what Paladin – National Stalking Advocacy Service refer to as “murder in slow motion”.

Mandy’s perpetrator was eventually arrested and charged with a number of offences including several firearms offences and several sexual offences as part of his behaviour had involved standing close to her home, naked, whilst watching her through binoculars and masturbating. Yes, exactly.

Did I mention that the stalking had been going on for 10 years??

Whilst the court did impose a custodial sentence – mainly due to the firearms offences – they failed to protect Mandy with an appropriate protective order. This is another all too common situation for victims of stalking and domestic abuse. In Mandy’s case because of the sexual offences a SOPO was made (Sexual Offences Prevention Order). Unfortunately Mandy was not consulted around the wording of the order and its terms were changed by the judge without reference to her which allowed him to return to live next to her and allowed him to approach very close to her property. This would never have been allowed had he lived next door to a school in my view.

The police accepted that Mandy would be at risk of serious harm due to the lack of protection afforded by the SOPO but said that they were powerless to do anything to help other than give her £5000 to build a “panic room” aka a prison cell in her own home.

Remind me who the victim in this case is again…?

Mandy is being assisted by Paladin who have been advocating on her behalf and the police have recently agreed to refer the case back to court to have the terms of the order altered. Unlike restraining orders it is not possible for a victim to apply to the court to change the terms of a SOPO so Mandy has been powerless in this regard. Let’s hope that this time the judge takes a more victim centred approach to it rather than concentrating on the perpetrator’s wish to return to home where he would be able to continue his reign of terror.

I represent victims on a regular basis to obtain properly worded protective orders in the civil courts to plug the gaps left by the useless orders sometimes handed out in the criminal courts.

Victims deserve properly worded protective orders to ensure that they are not re-victimised by feeling that they have to move away as the perpetrator is allowed to return to live next door to them. This is a common situation as stalkers will go out of their way to find accommodation near to their victim and all too often it is the victim who has to move again and again as the stalker tracks them down. This constant moving is then used by social services and the family courts as a stick to beat the victim with as they are accused of putting the welfare of the child at risk by keeping moving even though the father (who is often the perpetrator) is not criticised or held to account for his actions.

The criminal and family courts need to take the issue of domestic abuse and stalking far more seriously and stop colluding with the perpetrator as it is putting women at risk of serious harm and homicide.

 

Rachel Horman: Feminist legal blog by family legal aid lawyer of the year Rachel Horman. Mainly domestic abuse /forced marriage and violence against women. Sometimes ranty but always right…..

 

The murders of Clodagh Hawe and Megan Short by @EVB_Now

Cross-posted from: Everyday Victim Blaming
Originally published: 21.10.16

There was a tremendous amount of outrage about the appalling media coverage of the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons in September. Unfortunately, this level of grossly inappropriate and inaccurate representation of family annihilators is not an aberration.

Mark Short Sr. murdered his wife Megan and their children — 8-year-old Lianna, 5-year-old Mark Jr., and 2-year-old Willow. He also killed the dog. Time magazine covered their murder with this headline:

Pennsylvania Father Took His Kids to a Theme Park Before Killing Them

Because murdering your children and your wife is somehow a lesser evil if you treat them to a day out in a theme park first. 
Read more The murders of Clodagh Hawe and Megan Short by @EVB_Now

Its Time to Change the Narrative on Victim Blaming by @rupandemehta

Cross-posted from: Liberating Realizations
Originally published: 22.08.16

Not too long ago, Brock Turner, a Stanford student, raped a woman who was inebriated. The judge gave him to a meager sentence saying he has too much potential and did not want to ruin his life.

Last week, an exact copy cat case occurred. Austin Wilkerson, a University of Colorado student, offered to take his inebriated friend back to her dorm. Instead of escorting her to safety, he took his chances with her and raped her without her consent. He was let off with a light sentence too, despite confessing that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her.”
Read more Its Time to Change the Narrative on Victim Blaming by @rupandemehta

The Scottish Write to End Violence Against Women and Girls Award!

The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards Nominations close on Sept. 30!

Violence against women is often in the news. Its prevalence in society makes it a ‘hot topic’ for reporters and its complex nature makes it an interesting issue for feature writers. However, the fact that violence against women is so complex can mean that even journalists with the best of intentions can misrepresent some of the issues and perpetuate myths that are harmful to women.

On the other hand, good reporting can play a vital role in increasing understanding of violence against women and challenging its place in our society. And many journalists and bloggers produce high quality work which confronts violence and gender inequality.

We believe that their hard work deserves to be recognised, which is why Zero Tolerance with the support of NUJ ScotlandWhite Ribbon ScotlandScottish Women’s AidEngenderEveryday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50Rape Crisis ScotlandWomen for Independence and the Scottish Refugee Council are pleased to present the fourth annual Write to End Violence award for excellence in journalism. We are also pleased to announce the Sunday Herald will be working with us as our media partner.

This award seeks to drive up standards in journalism by rewarding those committed to furthering the cause of gender equality through their work.  It is open to all those writing in Scotland, and there are categories open to both paid and unpaid writing. Articles and blogs must be published between 01/09/15 and 01/09/16.
Read more The Scottish Write to End Violence Against Women and Girls Award!

Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

The Everyday Sexism Project and the End Violence Against Women Coalition are asking for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all schools in England, primary and secondary, state and private. We are asking for SRE to include informationhttp://www.aroomofourown.org/ on sexual consent, healthy relationships, online pornography, gender stereotypes and LGBT rights and relationships. We believe it is essential that SRE is delivered as part of a ‘whole-school’ approach, supported by teacher training; improved school leadership; a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and bullying in schools and a comprehensive review of current statutory guidance on child protection and safeguarding.


Read more Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

Girls Sold into Marriage In Exchange for Money, Animals and Food

Cross-posted from: Hiding under the bed is not the answer
Originally published: 29.05.16

I was eleven when I heard that they had come to claim me. I heard them drinking to celebrate the agreement. The day the deal was sealed, there were some pigs and some food ready … I fled. I was very scared. And then, I felt very guilty for everything that happened after I escaped from my village.

This story was told by Odilia López Álvarez, a indigenous women of Cholorigins, now an activist in the Womens’ Rights Centre in Chiapas (Centro de Derecho de la Mujer), Mexico. Her’s is a story that has been told many times. In Chiapas it is still possible for men to obtain an eleven-year old “wife”, to provide them with domestic and sexual services.

It is unlikely this story will be the last one, despite the Federal Senate’s recent initiative to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 in twenty-five state congresses and thus guarantee girls’ and teenage girls’ rights. The proposal was adopted in Chiapas and the state civil code was amended to only allow adults to marry.

Even so, it is questionable how much of an impact this will have within the indigenous communities of Chiapas, since marriages between minors are not usually celebrated according to state law, but only orally in the presence of “witnesses to the union”. These wedding are valid only in accordance with the local community’s “customs and practices” and are not registered. As a result it is difficult to know how many women and girls are forced to marry this way.   …

 

You can read the full post at Hiding under the bed is not the answer.   This story is translated and abridged by Cath Andrews from an article written by Patricia Chandomí and originally published by CIMAC Noticias. It is published at Hiding under the bed is not the answer with the generous permission of the author.*

 

 

The Family and Criminal Courts need to stop colluding with stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators

Cross-posted from: Rachel Horman
Originally published: 07.04.16

Mandy Dunford has been a victim of serious stalking for almost 10 years and her experience of the Criminal Justice system highlights many of the problems still facing victims of stalking and domestic abuse. The issue was recently featured on BBC Breakfast when both Mandy and I discussed the terrible way in which she and hundreds of other victims are being let down (Click here to watch the interview).

Mandy was treated badly by the police when she reported the stalking with the police failing to take it seriously and one officer even sexually assaulting her when he went to see her. The police failed to take appropriate action and Mandy felt – like many stalking victims – that her only option was to investigate the matter herself and gather her own evidence so she was forced to set up CCTV cameras. We don’t expect victims of other crimes to do this yet it happens constantly to victims of stalking. It is what we pay our police to do. Stalking victims will have experienced on average over 100 incidents before they even make a report to the police so it is vital that this crime is taken seriously particularly when you consider that 1:2 domestic abuse stalkers will carry out the threats they make and that the vast majority of domestic violence homicides involve stalking. It is what Paladin – National Stalking Advocacy Service refer to as “murder in slow motion”.
Read more The Family and Criminal Courts need to stop colluding with stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators

Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: Mother's Apart Project
Originally published: 11.05.16

I’ve been working on a theme that is to do with unhelpful/punitive/harmful responses to mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children in a context of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) (mothers apart for short). I am arguing that these responses stem from mother-blaming and involve attitudes, beliefs, values and perceptions that are influenced by culture, society, theories and the media. I also argue that blaming mothers apart can lead to secondary abuse/coercion, re-victimisation and re-traumatisation, and relates to the dearth of support for this at-risk population of mothers apart who are largely a marginalised and stigmatised vulnerable group of women with complex needs that are currently not being met by services/interventions.
Read more Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

Women’s Aid: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives

PETITION

TO: SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE, RT HON MICHAEL GOVE MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION, RT HON NICKY MORGAN MP AND DISTRICT JUDGES

We are calling on the Government and family courts to ensure there are no further avoidable child deaths as a result of unsafe child contact with a perpetrator of domestic abuse. In order for this to happen the family courts must be a safe place for all the children and survivors of domestic abuse that are relying on them to protect them from further harm.

Two ways they can do this are by:
1. Ensuring that domestic abuse is identified and its impact fully considered by the family court judiciary and that child arrangements orders put the best interests of the child(ren) first and protect the well-being of the parent the child(ren) is living with, in accordance with Practice Direction 12 J Child Arrangements & Contact Order: Domestic Violence and Harm.

2. Ensuring survivors of domestic abuse attending the family court have access to protection measures, similar to those available in criminal courts. Survivors of domestic abuse should always have access to a separate waiting room or area and judges must ensure there are separate exit times from court to allow the survivor to leave safely.

Why is this important?

“No parent should have to hold their children and comfort them as they die, or be told that their child has been harmed in an act of revenge or rage. There are often many facets to one family’s breakdown, and all too often children’s voices are not heard or acted upon” (Claire Throssell, mother of Jack and Paul who were killed in October 2014 by their father after he was granted unsupervised contact with them by the family court).

Over 10 years, 19 children and 2 women have died as a result of unsafe child contact, formal or informal, with a parent who is also a perpetrator of domestic abuse. These deaths were avoidable. To protect children, the family courts must put children’s safety at the heart of any decisions they make about contact with a known perpetrator of domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid’s Child First: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives campaign is calling on the Government and the family courts to protect the children that it has been set up to keep safe. Whilst only a minority of child contact cases, after the parents have separated, are taken to the family courts many of these cases involving domestic abuse result in contact decisions which do not put the children’s safety and best interests first. This can leave them, and their non-abusive, parent in considerable danger.

We need your help so please sign and share this petition widely to ensure that all child contact is safe and there are no further avoidable child deaths.

Visit the Women’s Aid website to find out more about this campaign.

PETITION

How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 24.02.16

This is an article that WEAVE  wrote for Parity in 2013. Still very pertinent for today.

How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

By Marie Hume, Dr. Elspeth McInnes, Kathryn Rendell, and Betty Green (Women Everywhere Advocating Violence Elimination Inc.)

 

It is well established that a significant percentage of homeless people in Australia are women and children escaping male violence. According to Homelessness Australia, just over two in every five of the estimated homeless population are women. More women than men seek assistance from the homeless service system each year. Two-thirds of the children who accompanied an adult to a homeless service last year were in the care of a woman, usually their mother, escaping domestic violence. Domestic violence is the most often cited reason given by women presenting to specialist homelessness services for seeking assistance.

The majority of people turned away from specialist homelessness services are women and their children. One in two people who request immediate accommodation are turned away each night due to high demand and under-resourcing.
Read more How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

Party Lines – on Women’s Equality Party by @strifejournal

Cross-posted from: Strife Journal
Originally published: 16.02.16

With elections coming up in May this year, Holly Dustin gives us a briefing on what the Women’s Equality Party is all about.

Without a doubt, the British political landscape has shifted significantly since I was trudging through a Politics degree at the University of Nottingham 25 years ago. It was, in some ways, a simpler time for those of us interested in who has power and what they do with it. Margaret Thatcher was still in office (until 1990), and you were either for her or against her. Nelson Mandela was still in prison on Robben Island and the Cold War dominated geo-politics. You voted in elections and in between time you could make your voice heard by going on a demo or wearing a t-shirt (I did both). There were no smartphones, no epetitions, no Facebook likes, and definitely no lobbying your MP on twitter.

There were few women in Parliament then and Thatcher, known for ‘pulling the ladder up behind her’, only ever promoted one woman, Baroness Young, to her Cabinet in all eleven years of her premiership. The Politics Department at Nottingham was an all-male affair too (my memory is of a micro-Cold War between the Thatcher supporting majority and Marxist minority). Politics (capital P) was black and white, and did not appear to include feminism.

Twenty five years later we can say for sure that British politics is less blokey, though still too white and male with only 29% of MPs being women and less than 7% of MPs being from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and there is a new wave of feminist activism both in Parliament and outside it. Furthermore, British politics is fragmenting; the three-party system is breaking up with the collapse of the Lib Dems in Parliament and the rise of Nationalists around the UK. and smaller parties, such as UKIP and the Greens, gaining electoral support even if first-past-the-post means that support doesn’t translate into seats.
Read more Party Lines – on Women’s Equality Party by @strifejournal

Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen

Cross-posted from: Women's Views on the News
Originally published: 30.03.16

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Commit to maintaining London’s pioneering Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.

 

 

Women’s groups in London published a ‘manifesto for ending violence against women and girls in the capital,’ recently and sent open letters to Mayoral candidates highlighting the endemic levels of domestic and sexual violence in London, and asking them to make specific commitments on ending female genital mutilation (FGM), on prostitution, on ensuring support services are maintained, and the effective policing of these crimes.

A new ‘mayorwatch’ website, which will track all relevant mayoral and Assembly candidates’ pledges has also been launched.

The manifesto and open letters precede an ‘ending violence against women and girls hustings’ in central London on 12 April, with Sian Berry, Green Party;  Yvette Cooper MP for Labour; Stephen Greenhalgh for the Conservatives; Annabel Mullin for the Lib Dems; and Sophie Walker, standing for the Women’s Equality Party, on the panel.
Read more Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen

Million Women Rise March – #WhyWeRise

Cross-posted from: Million Women Rise
Originally published: 04.03.16

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More than 10,000 women will march through London to call for an end to violence against women

  • Europe’s biggest march for women
  • Taking place on the weekend before International Women’s Day 2016
  • 10,000 women marched last year and even more expected on Saturday
  • Central London route: Oxford St, Wardour St. Piccadilli Circus, ending in
  • Trafalgar Square
  • 9th annual Million Women Rise march calling for an end to all forms of violence against women

More than 10,000 women and children will take to the streets on Saturday, 5 March 2016 on the weekend before International Women’s Day

The march, organised by Million Women Rise (MWR). Is holding up a mirror to the reality of male violence against women in the UK, bringing women together to say enough is enough.

Million Women Rise organises coaches to make the march accessible to women from all over the UK, thousands of whom will meet at 12 noon on Duke Street next to Selfridges.
Read more Million Women Rise March – #WhyWeRise

Femicide – Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women Goes Beyond Domestic Violence by @K_IngalaSmith

Cross-posted from: Karen Ingala Smith
Originally published: 18.05.15

I wrote this piece for Women’s Aid’s magazine Safe:

The Office for National Statistics released findings from the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales on 12 February. Men continue to be more likely to be killed than women, there were 343 male victims compared to 183 female victims (of all ages including children and babies). Court proceedings had concluded for 355 (55%) of 649 suspects relating to 536 homicides.  For those suspects where proceedings had concluded, 90% (338 suspects) were male and 10% were female (38 suspects). Men are more likely to be killed, but their killers are overwhelmingly men. Women are less likely to be killed, when they are, they are overwhelmingly killed by a man.  When we’re talking about fatal violence, we are almost always talking about men’s violence.
Read more Femicide – Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women Goes Beyond Domestic Violence by @K_IngalaSmith

Is this what you think victims of domestic violence look like? by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 01.02.15

In the Mothers Apart Project one of the themes emerging from talking to both mothers apart and professionals is the problem of stereotyping, and judging people by those stereotypes according to myths about ‘bad mothers’. Another theme is that professionals who are not in the field of domestic violence avoid asking questions about violence and abuse in order to have to deal with it – and this is for a variety of reasons. Professionals are telling me that this is what they observe on a regular basis in other professionals who avoid at all costs opening ‘Pandora’s Box’ that is domestic violence (you have to bear in mind that the professionals I am interviewing are going to be sympathetic to survivors/mothers apart as they have granted me an interview to support the Mothers Apart Project).

 


Read more Is this what you think victims of domestic violence look like? by @monk_laura

#16Days: Why Supporting Women In Leaving #DomesticAbuse Is Vital by @FrothyDragon

Cross-posted from: Frothy Dragon & the Patriarchal Stone
Originally published: 06.12.12

I noticed an irony the other day. I don’t remember the exact date I returned to D, following his court case. But, given that it was a matter of days before my birthday (very early December), it would have been during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The irony of this only struck me recently; As my family were convincing me to give my relationship with D another go – to put things right-, feminists would have been campaigning to help raise awareness of domestic abuse.

My family, when I phoned to tell them that D had headbutted me whilst I was holding our ten month old son, were a little less sympathetic than they should have been. A few weeks after the attack, I found myself being subjected to an hour long lecture from my mother, about how I’d “isolated” D, by choosing to breastfeed and co-sleep. I’d denied him intimacy. D’s right to sex was, in my parent’s eyes, more important than parenting in a way which worked for myself and my son. I was told that, by pressing charges I was over-reacting. At this point, I’d yet to tell anyone of the extent of abuse D had put me through.
Read more #16Days: Why Supporting Women In Leaving #DomesticAbuse Is Vital by @FrothyDragon

November 25 is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women – not White Ribbon Day

Cross-posted from: Elegant Gathering of White Snows
Originally published: 25.11.15

November 25th was first chosen as the date for an annual day of protest of male violence in 1981. This occurred at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Bogota. It was chosen in memory of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel.

The Mirabel sisters were political activists who fought the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They stood up to a genocidal regime that used torture, rape and kidnapping and they were murdered for it. This is why November 25th was chosen as an international day of activism that “denounced all forms men’s violence against women from domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment to state violence including torture and abuse of women political prisoners.”

November 25th received official recognition as an international day to raise awareness of violence against women from United Nations on December 17, 1999.

None of this information is out with the public realm. Even Wikipedia, not known for its accuracy, manages to get the facts right. Yet, November 25th is rarely referred to as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women anymore. Instead, it is called White Ribbon day after a campaign started by men in Canada. 
Read more November 25 is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women – not White Ribbon Day

Why talking about male violence matters by @SarahDitum

(Cross-posted from Sarah Ditum’s Paperhous)

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is also the international day of tediously explaining why violence against women needs to be discussed as a category. November 25 is the day when you will be reminded that two thirds of homicide victims in England and Wales are male, and that (according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales) men are twice as likely as women to have been victims of violence. November 25 is the day of being reminded that women commit violence too. Last year, I was at an End Violence Against Women event in Bristol where a man had bought a ticket solely so he could stand up in the middle of the discussion and shout, “What about Joanna Dennehy?” (Dennehy became the first woman subject to a whole life tariff in February this year, when she was convicted of the murders of three men). What about Joanna Dennehy, then? After all, it’s true that women are also implicated in violence:

Yes, women are violent too. But the traffic of violence is overwhelmingly from men, and disproportionately to women. As a class, men are the bearers of violence. As a class, women are its victims. And this is why feminists talk about male violence: not for lack of concern about the violence perpetrated by women, but because as a demographic phenomenon, violence is masculine. For this reason, we can draw connections between the patterns of violence and other areas of male domination. What about the fact that women are more likely to live in poverty than men? The fact that the UK has a pay gap of 19.7% in favour of men? The fact that women make up just 23% of MPs? What about the fact that purchasers of sex are exclusively men – is that relevant here? All of these inequalities exist in an environment shaped by that traffic of violence: from men, to women. All of them must be addressed in the acknowledgement of that context, if they are to be addressed at all.
Read more Why talking about male violence matters by @SarahDitum

This thing about male victims by @K_IngalaSmith

Cross-posted from: Karen Ingala Smith
Originally published: 19.04.13

A couple of weeks ago, The Independent ran an article on male victims of domestic violence. There were some factual inaccuracies in the report along with the use of the statistic that one in three victims of domestic abuse in Britain is male. I challenged these on twitter. I received the response below from a professional referenced in the article

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But I’m not going to move on. I’d prefer to talk about this statistic because it is unhelpful at best, it is derailing and dangerous at worst.

The claim of gender parity in domestic violence, or at least of much less difference than is conventionally believed, is nothing new, in fact it’s been popping up – and out of the mouths of Men’s Rights Activists – since at least the 1970ies.  No matter how often or how robustly ‘gender symmetry’ claims are rebuffed and refuted, its advocates continue to regurgitate their position.
Read more This thing about male victims by @K_IngalaSmith

Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: The Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 15.02.15

The overarching aim of my research project is to address the problem that, in the UK, there is no comprehensive, statutory provision of support for mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children. But how is it that there are so very many women that need this support? Mother-child separations occur largely in a context of domestic violence and can have profound and long-lasting effects of both mothers and their children. Provision is made, of course, for the health and wellbeing of children through health and social care and the children are the priority – as they should be. However, largely due to a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic abuse, professionals often do not see that children could be better protected by protecting and supporting the mother as a priority – by recognising and respecting her status as the primary carer and attachment figure (in the majority of cases), who is often the child’s prime source of soothing and security.

We seem to have found ourselves in a position, however, that mothers are blamed for being in abusive relationships and in seeking to protect the child from being in an unsafe household/environment, all the focus of professionals’ interventions are aimed at the mother: not on protecting her but blaming her. By threatening to remove her children, making action plans with unrealistic targets and setting impossibly high standards of parenting she is all too often set up to fail and ends up losing parental responsibility. Meanwhile, the perpetrator frequently remains largely invisible to any intervention and when a child is removed from its mother because she has supposedly failed to protect the child from the fallout of the abuser’s behaviour, the mother might even find that the abuser eventually ends up with having more contact with the child than she does or even residency of the child. This is likely to be a devastating outcome for both child and mother with lifelong implications for mental health and wellbeing.
Read more Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura