Negotiating Safety in Relationships: Children's Agency in the Context of Family Violence

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:06 PM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Anita MORRIS , Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Cathy HUMPHREYS , University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Kelsey HEGARTY , University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
This paper reports on the findings of qualitative research undertaken in Australia with children (n = 23) and mothers (n = 18) from a primary care population. The participants had all experienced family violence perpetrated by the father or step-father and were recruited from medical centres and a larger family violence study of women from primary care. The methods included in-depth interviews and focus groups; informed by a theoretical framework of hermeneutic phenomenology, ethics of care and dialogical ethics.  

The aim of the study was to hear children’s voices in primary care research about children’s safety and resilience in the context of family violence. The research questions sought to understand children and mothers’ perspectives on children’s safety and resilience; establish how children’s safety is realised in the context of family violence and determine how children’s voices inform a primary care response.

The main findings revealed that children needed to negotiate their safety in the context of family violence and post separation. Key to this was whether the child had agency to negotiate their safety; which was dependent on four interrelated factors. These factors will be presented to explain the ‘Model of Children’s Agency’. Informed by the model, implications for policy, practice and further research will be considered.