Looking for participants – both social workers and mothers: Do current approaches to mothers within child protection social work, re-victimise women with violent partners?

My name is Stacey and I am trained as a social worker – I’ve worked in both Child Protection and Children In Care social work before returning to Nottingham Trent University to undertake a PhD that looks at mothers experiences of domestic abuse and social work.

Criteria for Mothers: Anyone who has been in, or is in an abusive relationship AND who has, or has had involvement with children’s services.

Criteria for Social Workers: Anyone who has worked in Child Protection.

I would like participants to be involved in different parts of the research, and so you have a choice of how you can be involved.

There are focus groups which review research tools, activities/interviews, and help disseminate the findings – this is a method known as participatory action research. My approach seeks to ensure that the stories of participants are told accurately – from their point of view. You wouldn’t be expected to take part in all of these roles, so if any of them sound interesting to you, we can discuss this and find what suits you the best.

I have chosen this method because I want to understand if the current approaches to Mothers within child protection social work, re-victimise them with their violent partners. This interests me because during my time in social work I was made very uncomfortable by the way that social workers work with women who had experienced domestic abuse.

Social workers have to decide whether domestic abuse is having a damaging impact on the child; and if it is, they must decide how to manage the risk and ensure that the child is protected. In this situation, they often focus their attention on the main care-giver, who is often the Mum; and this can lead to decisions being made by a social worker – which takes away the Mothers ability to make decisions, and often leaves her feeling powerless.

Such decisions may assume that the Mum has enough support and money to leave the relationship safely, and that the Mum hasn’t been protective of her children; and it does not place responsibility for the abusive behaviour on the right person. It can also ignore the statistics about the risks to Mothers leaving abusive relationships. I know that this chain of events can happen, and I want to investigate it with Mothers and social workers.

I would like to hear if you have experienced behaviour like this; and hear about experiences that were positive and different from this. Most of all, I would like to hear from you about what YOU experienced in the situation.

If you are interested in my project and would like to have a chat, make a comment, or even become involved, please don’t hesitate to text, call or email me on 07565 472560/  stacey.stewart2016@my.ntu.ac.uk.

With very best wishes and thanks in advance,

Stacey.

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