When Coercive Control Continues to Harm Children: Post‐Separation Fathering, Stalking and Domestic Violence

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article shows how domestic violence perpetrators can use coercive control against their children after their ex-partner has separated from them. Coercive control can include violence, threats, intimidation, stalking, monitoring, emotional abuse and manipulation, interwoven with periods of seemingly ‘caring’ and ‘indulgent’ behaviour as part of the overall abuse. Crucially, what this article provides is knowledge, hitherto largely missing, about how children and young people can experience coercive control post-separation. The article draws on two separate data sets, one from the UK and one from Finland, which together comprise qualitative interviews with 29 children who had coercive control perpetrating fathers/father-figures. figures. The data sets were separately thematically analysed, then combined using a qualitative interpretative meta-synthesis. This produced three themes regarding children's experiences: (1) dangerous fathering that made children frightened and unsafe; (2) ‘admirable’ fathering, where fathers/father-figures appeared as ‘caring’, ‘concerned’, ‘indulgent’ and/or ‘vulnerable-victims’ and (3) omnipresent fathering that continually constrained children's lives. Dangerous and ‘admirable’ fathering describe the behaviours of coercive control-perpetrating fathers/father-figures, while omnipresent fathering occurred in children as a fearful mental and emotional state. Perpetrators could also direct performances of ‘admirable’ fathering at professionals and communities in ways that obscured their coercive control. Implications for policy and practice are discussed. ‘What this article provides is knowledge, hitherto largely missing, about how children and young people can experience coercive control post-separation’. Key Practitioner Messages: Children and young people can be direct victims/survivors of coercive control and they can experience it in much the same ways as adults do – feeling confused and afraid, living constrained lives, and being entrapped and harmed by the perpetrator. Coercive control can harm children and young people emotionally/psychologically, physically, socially and educationally. Robust measures are required to deal with coercive control perpetrating fathers/father-figures, in order to prevent them from using father-child relationships to continue imposing coercive control on children and ex-partners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-324
Number of pages15
JournalChild abuse review
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2020
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • coercive control
  • domestic violence/domestic abuse
  • father figures
  • post-separation contact
  • private and family law
  • domestic abuse
  • domestic violence

Field of science

  • Social work

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