Thesis

The actions and perceptions of mothers who have experienced domestic violence

This study explores the psychological effects that witnessing domestic violence has on children from the mother’s perspective, the mother’s reaction to these effects, and what services she found most useful during this period. This qualitative case study used an exploratory research design consisting of in-depth interviews of two mothers who have children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old and have experienced domestic violence. Each interview was based upon a set of 11 semi-structured questions. The data collected indicated that even if children did not directly witness domestic violence, they were aware of it and may have developed certain behaviors such as attachment issues, depression and aggression as a result. It was evident that the main goal and biggest aspiration for these women are to be ‘good mothers’ and protect their children from the violence. They employed various strategies to protect their children from exposure to the abuse. This study also found that service agents often misunderstand the dynamics of domestic violence and this leaves mothers being made to feel like the perpetrator and having the responsibility of ending the violence. Service agents often made the situation more complex; and mothers who experience domestic violence often face critical and judgmental attitudes from the people who are supposed to support them.

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