The role of social care in holding perpetrators to account

In this podcast, Dr Jessica Wild speaks to Ali about parenting her children while experiencing domestic abuse from her then partner, and her involvement with children’s social care.

Dr Jessica Wild, from Research in Practice, speaks to Ali about her experiences as a woman parenting her children while experiencing domestic abuse from her partner, and about her involvement with children’s social care. In this third episode, Ali discusses:

  • The fear of children’s social care
  • The complexities of leaving
  • Post-separation abuse
  • Recovery of self and identity for victim-survivors
  • Looking forward.

Talking Points 

  • Holding perpetrators of domestic abuse to account in children’s social care settings, and shifting the blame away from victim-survivors.
  • Engaging directly with perpetrators of domestic abuse, and the need to expand the options available to people who want to change their behaviour, including intervention at an earlier stage. 
  • The need to allocate responsibilities to the perpetrator of abuse and challenge the comparative absence of fathers in children’s social care proceedings. 
  • The threat of child removal by children’s social care and the ways in which children’s social care professionals become ‘the problem’, rather than the perpetrator of harm.
  • The huge burden of responsibility placed on mothers when experiencing children’s social care and domestic abuse. 
  • Every family needs a bespoke, tailored response which takes into account the needs of every family member. 
  • The complex process of leaving a relationship with an abusive person. 
  • Post-separation abuse and coercion by the perpetrator via the family court system and contact arrangements. 
  • Post-separation recovery of self and identity for victim-survivors after leaving a perpetrator of abuse and the residual effects of coercive controlling behaviours. 
  • Looking forward to the future.

Questions for reflection 

Ali has compiled the following reflective questions to facilitate conversation and develop practice:  

  1. What steps have you taken to appropriately challenge the person causing the harm?
  2. Is enough being done to hold the person causing harm to account for their behaviour?
  3. How can you give power back to the victim? Ensure that you do not victim-blame or gaslight the person you are supporting to comply with actions YOU feel are best. 
  4. Applying the principles of trauma informed practice, consider the extent to which adult and child victim-survivors’ responses to children’s social care involvement and/or the person causing harm, may be shaped by their experiences of trauma and or adversity.

Ali’s poem  

Below is a poem written by Ali, which may help to begin thinking differently about your practice with families in which there is a perpetrator of domestic abuse:

Don't tell me I'm a victim then punish me for his actions. 
Don't tell me the statistics "it takes on average 7 times before women leave" then punish me for not being some miracle who went against the statistics. 
Don't put me in a catch 22. 

It's half your fault I lied, either way was court, so I took the risk and lied.   
Don't lie and tell me you're there to help when your end vision’s already in mind and is only to move the problem by just leaving him behind. 

And to do this; lie to me, manipulate some truths but if I lie you punish me, 
And if he manipulates it's abuse! 
One rule for you another me. 
He was the risk but the pressures on me. 

As mother it's my job to protect, well what about him as the father! 
You gave him a list of things he must do then it was only ever me that heard from you. 
He didn't engage, is it any wonder why? No one spoke to him until I got mad and asked why?! 

You blamed him, he blamed you. 
What a childish way from both of you.

You give me advice say I take it or court. It's not really advice that's blackmail for sure. 
You blackmail me with my child. 
What makes you better than him? 

Oh yes, you're professionals as I was told in the past you're my daughter's social worker ‘n what you say is that. 
We'll I am my daughters' mother and I won't be pushed around.  
I'm done playing games so from now on I make the plans. 

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