Abstract:This paper draws from interviews with 45 mothers and 52 children who participated in an action research project to develop activities to support women and children in the aftermath of domestic violence. A thematic analysis was used to analyse the data and explore the question: In what ways does the perpetrator of abuse remain present in the lives of women and children following separation? The paper invites workers to recognize the distortions created by domestic violence that may need to be identified and addressed in the aftermath of violence. The ways in which past trauma, erosion of self‐esteem and the undermining of the mother–child relationship continues to create a shadow across the present relationship are identified. The continued presence of the perpetrator of abuse through child contact arrangements and ongoing harassment is also highlighted. The ‘absent presence’ of the abusive partner is posited as a concept to assist workers with a framework through which to understand problems in the mother–child relationship which emerge when living with and separating from a violent partner. The paper has implications for social workers orientating practice to focus on perpetrator accountability and support strengthening the mother–child relationship.
Researchers: Thiara, R.K. and Humphreys, C