Gender Entrapment – Domestic Abuse and Motherhood

Taking an autoethnographic approach to our research we aim to challenge attitudes and practices within the family justice system in the field of domestic abuse.  We are specifically focusing on how systems are enabling and supporting entrapment through motherhood.

When domestic abuse is raised as a concern in contact proceedings this is being minimised and in some cases ignored.  Women attempting to protect themselves and their children are often viewed as hostile and obstructive parents, prompting potentially short-term and inappropriate arrangements.  This can ultimately lead to families being failed by the justice system, whose duty it is to primarily protect.

Whilst hypocritically public services, fathers groups, the media and the legal system appear to encourage women to promote healthy father and child relationships, they do little or nothing to protect women and children where these relationships are just not possible.

The political and social arena, play an important role in a mothers ability to protect themselves and their children. Unfortunately the current and irresponsible trend towards a co-parenting approach, regardless of the circumstances, has contributed to the provision of a platform for abusers to continue to sabotage the stability of the mother and child relationship.

Based on the results of our research we believe that managing and reducing the impact of domestic abuse is of paramount importance, to tackle the increasing cost to health and social care sectors in a challenging economic climate.

Ultimately this research aims to instigate a healthy debate that would bring together all sectors and service-users to promote the development of multi-agency strategies.  Increased wellbeing and resilience of women would need the development of training and education in partnership with service-users, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of domestic abuse.

Sam Taylor and Claudia Miles