British Journal of Social Work
The facilitation of a positive relationship between the children of abused women and the perpetrator of the violence is extremely complex in the light of the potential danger for women and children and the conflicting needs, interests, and rights of different family members. Nevertheless, social service agencies can no longer ignore the role of abusive men as fathers. Holding men accountable for their children's well being may, under certain conditions, contribute to the healthier emotional development of affected children. This article critically discusses this controversial issue by examining available literature about children's perceptions of their violent fathers, abusive men as parents, qualifications for abusive men's access to their children, and intervention with children of abusive men and their fathers. Qualitative research has revealed that children have difficulty coping with the two competing images of their father as a good and loving father, as well as a bad, abusing husband. Despite the violent and manipulative behavior exhibited by abusers, many child witnesses of domestic violence wish to have a positive relationship with their father. However, the needs of children for contact with both parents must be balanced with the potential for further abuse. Group therapy for children, the involvement of fathers in the treatment of their children, and parenting interventions can help to mitigate the negative effects of domestic violence and enhance the emotional development of involved children. (Author abstract modified) 58 references.
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