They are still thinking of the child all the time and they’re living on the hope that their partner will change

January 2016 and I’m immersed in my interview data once again. I only conducted a preliminary analysis before the workshop and now I’m exploring them in-depth. Some of the professionals I spoke to are so amazing – such wonderful, caring, empathic, compassionate, extraordinary people. If only all vulnerable people were lucky enough to encounter such individuals.

Today, I read the excerpt that follows and it brought tears to my eyes. I immediately wanted to share it and I contacted the professional who gave me permission to post it here. I wanted to share it for all the mums out there, including mums apart, who have been made to feel bad as a mother because they have not been able to leave an abusive relationship – for whatever reason.

Interviewer: and you said there about that mum – that she was a good mum – and a lot of people would say, “well, she’s not a good mum if she’s in a domestic violence relationship” – what would you say about that?

Participant: I would say that’s not true. I think, you know, if the mum has an attachment to her child, if the mum puts her child first and meets all its needs, in terms of health and everything. But the mum is herself a victim, I feel, and often, like I said, they’ve not…… It’s a difficult one but I do believe that mum can absolutely put her child first, whilst still being very, very scared and fearful, and sometimes equate that leaving would be worse for the child. I know this one mum in particular who keeps saying, “the only alternative is to go home with my alcoholic abusive parents and my child will not be happy there, the other alternative is that we’re homeless, and the other alternative is that my child will never see her father And it’s important that they have their father….” So you know, they are still thinking of the child all the time and they’re living on the hope that their partner will change, and that things will be better and that they can be a family. And that’s all that they ultimately want. Yes, it might be naïve and it might be misinformed sometimes but I don’t believe it’s deliberate. And like I say, when you’re dealing with a chronic history of abuse, they don’t know any better and their self worth is very low. And I think with a lot of mums that I’ve met, if ever the abuse has gone towards their children, that’s when they’ve had the courage to straightaway leave because it’s not about them. They don’t care so much about themselves and they’re thinking, “Well, I don’t mind that he’s abusive to me and I probably deserve it” because their self-esteem and self-worth is so low. But they wouldn’t want anything ever to happen to their children and if the partner ever directs any thing towards the children – they’re out, but they are not always seeing the fact that they are being emotionally abused or that, you know, with the child present it’s the same, but I think that education could help with that. But yes, I would totally disagree – I still think mums can care for their children but not always realise the implications of being in an abusive relationship – or see that it is worse for the child than the alternative, which for them is extremely fearful. And they do fear sometimes for their lives if they leave -and then they would be thinking, well, their child will be without a mum – so yeah, that would be my argument on that one.

About Dr Laura Monk

My doctoral research investigated how to improve professionals' responses to mothers who become separated from their children. I developed a training workshop for the professionals who mothers come into contact with - largely at the intersection of health and social care, the family courts and domestic abuse services. I am also a counsellor and psychotherapist and I run self-care retreats for practitioners in Spain and the UK
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2 Responses to They are still thinking of the child all the time and they’re living on the hope that their partner will change

  1. Caroline says:

    I felt like that person looked into my life. no money, no relatives to help me, no place to go with 3 children, no job. In my mid 40’s I earned a college degree, ,my self esteem somewhat returned, and the abuse stopped. Today, years later all 3 kids are grown and married with good spouses. Maybe they learned how to make better choices than I did. I did not leave my husband but he died 10 years ago from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. laurammonk says:

    Hard times, indeed. So pleased to hear you and your children came through it. It must have taken a sustained effort to achieve your degree in those circumstances. Thanks for sharing.


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