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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222515 Find in a Library
Title: Implacably Hostile or Appropriately Protective?: Women Managing Child Contact in the Context of Domestic Violence
Journal: Violence Against Women  Volume:14  Issue:4  Dated:April 2008  Pages:381-405
Author(s): Christine Harrison
Date Published: April 2008
Page Count: 25
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on qualitative research in the United Kingdom's child contact (visitation centers), this study examined the perspectives of 71 women victims of domestic violence regarding how family court proceedings have exposed women and their children to further abuse from the husband/father under court mandates for visitation under separation/divorce proceedings.
Abstract: The perspectives of the women showed that a large proportion had experienced persistent postseparation violence and harassment for lengthy periods. The dominant picture that emerged from the interviews is of a systemic failure of family courts to assess the safety needs of women and children who have directly experienced or been indirectly exposed to the abuse of the husband/father. Although organizational factors and resource constraints had a role in this systemic failure, entrenched ideological perspectives of court personnel were more significant. Beliefs about women and domestic violence embedded in popular and professional attitudes have undermined the structuring of needed protective mechanisms in postseparation visitation. Instead of viewing the women as needing legal structures for protection from an abusing spouse, courts often viewed the women as attempting to obstruct or undermine a positive child-father interaction after the separation/divorce. Although child protection agencies expect mothers to protect their children from violent ex-partners, family courts expect them to promote children's contact with abusive fathers. Such court mandates not only increase the child's indirect and potentially direct exposure to violence by someone who becomes a role model for the child, but also forces the woman to have ongoing interaction with the abuser in the course of the logistics of implementing child-father visitation requirements. The women reported postseparation violence and intimidation before, during, and after child visitation periods, as well as continuous litigation regarding child custody and visitation. 4 notes and 85 references
Main Term(s): Children of battered women; Parental visitation rights
Index Term(s): Domestic assault; Domestic relations; Domestic violence causes; Family courts; Foreign courts; Foreign criminal justice research; Judicial attitudes; Juvenile victims; United Kingdom (UK)
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