About the Mothers Apart Project

The aim of the Mothers Apart Project was to develop a multi-agency workshop for professionals responding to mothers separated from their children.

Mothers apart is a term that is used by women in the charity, MATCH Mothers who often experience nightmare scenarios of losing their children to their abusers when family courts and social services become involved, and prioritise children’s relationships with abusive men over the safety of women and children.

Mother-child separations often occur in a context of domestic abuse, particularly coercive control. It is common for mother-child relationships to be targeted by abusers who utilise grooming and conditioning strategies involving the use of children to cause psychological/emotional harm to mothers. Exploitation of institutions and manipulation of the children, professionals, friends and family are key tactics in such strategies.  In the family courts, there is a contradiction between violent men and men as fathers, which means that mothers can be blamed for failing to protect children when they are in an abusive relationship, yet also blamed for failing to encourage contact between children and their fathers when they leave the abusive relationship. When family courts blame mothers in these ways, women can lose custody of their children when an order is made for the child to either go into care or be placed in the care of the father.

The Mothers Apart Project was central to a doctoral study funded by a Faculty of Health and Life Sciences PhD studentship at Coventry University. Ethical clearance was granted for this project number P26848 entitled: Developing training for professionals working with mothers separated from their children in a context of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. The principal researcher and project leader was Laura Monk and the supervisory team comprised Professor Erica Bowen (Director of Studies), Professor Sarah Brown and Dr Emma Sleath.

The overarching aims of the project were to raise awareness of the needs of mothers who become (or are at risk of becoming) separated from their children, improve responses to these needs and inform practice. The needs of the children in many cases would be best met by first meeting the needs of their mothers. As Liz Kelly said at the Women’s Aid 40th Anniversary National Conference: “Woman protection is frequently the most effective form of child protection”. In the spirit of keeping mothers and children together in the aftermath of violence and abuse, mothers apart and interested professionals were invited to inform the planning and development stages of a training programme aimed at best practice in responding to complex needs. A workshop was trialled in 2015 at Coventry University. This was a community based action research project that involved and empowered the communities who were the potential beneficiaries of the training developed in this study. Methods of data collection for this project included interviews, focus groups, planning groups, autoethnography and an evaluation of the training.

I was inspired by Pat Thomson’s blog, patter, which is a great resource for PhD students. The blog is a mine of information that influenced my decision to blog about my research project. As a past mother apart myself, the Mothers Apart Project is close to my heart and I am committed to creating real change. I was not an academic helicoptering in to study a community only to leave once the study was complete without achieving anything positive for the community members. I want to thank the charity, MATCH Mothers, that I have been a member of for over ten years by giving something back. This charity is an amazing community of incredibly brave women who offer their strength and support to each other in terrible circumstances of becoming separated from children. Please consider joining if you are a mother apart and please donate if you wish to offer much-needed financial support.

I hope you check-in again soon and I welcome your feedback.

8 Responses to About the Mothers Apart Project

  1. Pingback: Blogging 101 Introduction | mothersapartproject

  2. swgwo says:

    This is very important research and I wish you success.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Abigail says:

    Good day Laura, My name is Abigail. I am writing to offer my full support for your research. I have gone through the dreadful events of leaving a spiritually abusive relationship/marriage of 26 years. We had five children together. The loss of my children through his influence has been over the mark horrendous and even though he sexually assaulted/was sentenced for molesting two of our three daughters, the blame for his actions have not moved my children towards me, but away. I write this brief note because, during the last ten years of trying to not only recover from chronic PTSD, I did everything I could to protect my children that were brainwashed and severely alienated from me. I was being targeted through every legal means to continue to batter me and the most difficult time I had was trying to encourage all the legal systems to work together for the protection of me, the mother first so that I could effectively protect my children. After one dire event in my life, I called upon my local Police Captain to talk with him about organizing these systems because I was falling through the cracks. Due this lack of synchronization, I have fully lost my children who believe horrible things about their loving mother. The systems made things worse and enabled the true abuser more blatantly. The father has since moved his influence back into the oldest daughters mind, the one he sexually assaulted and I’ve now lost her…..again. The children use his same tactics and manipulate the system against me also and I’ve been forced to build a fortress of protection around me from my own children now. I ache. My personal recovery from this trauma has been through the healing modality of Faster Emotional Freedom Technique, ie: Tapping. I have since become a trained practitioner and am building a business that will help heal and empower women. We mothers who have lost our children through abuse and injustice can learn new ways to manage the powerful emotions from the loss, but the love and ache linger, always. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Please feel free to email me at: peaceofmindfastereft@gmail.com or visit me on Facebook: Peace of Mind Faster EFT. I would love to participate and learn as much as I can to help advocate this message and research in the United States as well. Sincerely, a mother, Abigail

    Liked by 2 people

    • laurammonk says:

      Hi Abigail, thank you for your support for my research. I am sorry to hear of your situation with your children and the trauma you have suffered. Your story resonates with me and I know of the pain that you speak about. I am interested to hear that you have had success with the emotional freedom technique and that you are now helping others with this. I advocate for altruism as an effective way of recovery as well as making meaning out of our experiences and I hope your practice reaches as many as possible. A mother’s love will always be and managing the pain of separation from a child takes sustained effort. Sharing our strength, hope and learned ways of coping is an important part of this endeavour. Take care, Laura

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Mother blaming e violenza domestica | il ricciocorno schiattoso

  5. S Horice says:

    I am being tortured because I fled abuse. Daily my heart bleeds. I cannot even cry any more. I know too much. All of what you have written is my life. When I hear my beautiful children laugh it haunts me as I know soon I will only hear their tiny echoes as they are court order stolen from me using the dreaded words “may present significant risk in the future” A sentence without trial. A mother accused, denied and stolen from of her most valued love. A punishment for fleeing abuse. Sanctioned and twisted by narcissistic government workers to fulfil targets and reap bonuses. I’ll be in your group. I shall give you 500 more who were punished by our so called democracy for speaking out about abuse. They wake up to torture and sleep alone with fear. They are the bravest women I know. Those of them who survived it. I shall show you great compassion from friends and strangers. And I shall show you that evil does exist. But it does not lie under the bed and shout BOO, it lies next to you in bed, and strokes your hair … while you behave. .


    • laurammonk says:

      I am sorry to hear of what you are going through. Please contact the charity MATCH Mothers for support with living apart from your children. Although I understand that this situation is torturous for you, you can get through it but your support network will make such a difference to this process. Look after yourself and try to focus on being as well and as strong as you can be for when your children come looking for you one day, as they are sure to do. Best wishes, Laura


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