Monday 14 December 2015

A report by researchers from the University of Northampton into children’s experiences of domestic violence, has been published in the December issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

The report, ‘Beyond “Witnessing”: Children’s Experiences of Coercive Control in Domestic Violence and Abuse’, by Dr Jane Callaghan, Joanne Alexander, Professor Judith Sixsmith, and Dr Lisa Fellin, finds that children should be considered as  direct victims of domestic violence, and not just passive witnesses to what is taking place in their homes.

The research is part of the project ‘Understanding Agency and Resistance Strategies – Children in Situations of Domestic Violence‘, a two year project, funded by the European Commission. Led by the University of Northampton’s Dr Jane Callaghan, the project was the largest qualitative study of children’s experiences of domestic violence conducted in the world.

Dr Jane Callaghan, Professor of Psychology, commented: “Domestic violence is usually understood as something that takes place between adults in an intimate relationship. Children who live in families affected by domestic violence are often overlooked.

“On 29 December 2015, a law criminalising coercive control will come into effect. This means that we will start to recognise that domestic violence is not just about physical violence, but that it involves patterns of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour that permeate families. We hope that this will open a space in policy and law to really consider children’s experiences. Our article documents children’s experiences of coercive control and suggests that they are direct victims of such experiences, not collateral damage to adult violence.”

The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, published monthly, is devoted to the study and treatment of victims and perpetrators of interpersonal violence, addressing the causes, effects, treatment, and prevention of all types of violence. It provides a forum of discussion for the concerns and activities of professionals and researchers working in domestic violence, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault, physical child abuse, and violent crime.

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