Diverse contemporary theories and approaches to FDV have proliferated with increased focus on the effects of FDV. Families affected by FDV may presently be met with a suite of explanations for their experiences of violence, depending on the individual attitudes of their practitioner. These theories of violence may include descriptions of insecure attachment, gendered symmetry or common or dysfunctional couple violence.
While avoiding a critique of these theories, this paper explores practice policies that ensure common approaches to violence with a focus on understandings of gender and childhood. These approaches should focus on the social and emotional wellbeing and long-term mental health of children.
Practice and society have achieved much in the past decades through understandings of gendered violence and a focus on the effects on children and women. But there remain many invitations for practitioners to collude with understandings of violence which minimise or legitimise perpetrator responsibility, or that attribute culpability to children and women. These invitations can be even stronger where mothers are affected by coexisting issues as the outcome of disadvantage.
The need to continue these conversations is crucial, as is the continued organisational commitment to consistent responses to violence that achieve safe outcomes for children. Our intention in writing this paper is to continue that conversation and to encourage organisations and individual practitioners to reflect on their practice policies, assessment tools, supervision and professional processes with the view to providing child-focused service delivery.
Dan and Chris work at Emerging Minds in the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. They would like to thank:
David Tully and Dr Jamie Lee from Relationships Australia South Australia for their contribution, review and advice.
Emerging Minds Child and Family Partners Fiona, Jaisen, Kham, Shardonnai and Mandy for their contributions, review and advice.
Dr Fiona Buchanan, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Social Work & Social Policy, University of South Australia for her review and advice.
Jocelyn Marsland, Brad Morgan, Sophie Guy, Sarah Seekamp and Hop Nguyen for their review, advice, feedback and support.
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