Developing a Theoretical Framework to Discuss Mothers Experiencing Domestic Violence and Being Subject to Interventions: A Cross-National Perspective


The discourse about domestic violence has developed in patriarchal societies, and so we position our understanding of ‘mother’ within a patriarchal framework. We explore the ways in which ‘mothering’ and ‘mother blame’ have been constructed within that framework and how this becomes relevant in the context of domestic violence and child welfare social work. We review literature from Australia, Canada, England and Wales, and the United States of America that has focused on child welfare responses to mothers experiencing domestic violence and abuse. On the basis of that review, we argue that mothers are responsibilised for violence and abuse they do not perpetrate. We show that the way legislation operates in some jurisdictions facilitates hegemonic, patriarchal constructions. We call for a review of current child welfare social work policy and practice in which domestic violence is present.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2021-06-01
Pages:113 to 126
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Author Biographies

University of Wolverhampton
 United Kingdom

Elaine Arnull: Chair, American Society of Criminology, Division of Women and Crime. Visiting Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Organiser, Empowering Girls and Women Experiencing Violence in the Family, United Nations 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, March 2019. Government Academic Advisor: Advisory Panel for Probation Learning (MOJ), Current and Youth Justice Board, 2013-18. Global Scholar, Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University, USA, 2016. Editorial Board, Feminist Criminology. Qualified social worker and worked as a Probation Officer in London.

De Montfort University
 United Kingdom

Stacey Stewart: Lecturer in Social Work at de Montfort University and a qualified social worker. Completed PhD at Nottingham Trent University.