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Parenting after Domestic Abuse

25th November 2017 - International Day Opposing Violence Against Women

COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service is launching a new booklet, “Parenting in the context of Domestic Violence”, as part of the annual global awareness campaign, 16days of Action on Violence against Women. The campaign began on November25th, International Day Opposing Violence against Women, and ends on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.  

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“Parenting in the context of Domestic Violence” covers topics from talking to children about the domestic abuse and how to manage contact and access with a non-cooperative ex-partner. It also explores coping mechanisms and strategies for mothers whose parenting has been undermined through abuse.

Professor Pat Dolan of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUIG, has written the forward for the booklet, which was produced in consultation with women who are on the COPE Galway Domestic Violence Service User Refuge Forum (SURF). Professor Dolan commented, “Not alone has the voice of women who are parents experiencing domestic violence been unheard, their expertise and wisdom in relation to coping remains untapped and unshared.  This booklet is both welcome and timely in that it firstly outlines the challenges and solutions of trying to parent well while living with domestic violence; but also its authorship includes those with first-hand experience”.

Christiane Blodau, Service Coordinator at COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service commented, “Parenting alone can be difficult at times, but parenting having left an abusive relationship can involve grappling with issues that are especially challenging. Women often leave abusive relationships because of concerns about their children’s well-being. When they come to COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge at Waterside House or our outreach service they report a number of these concerns, which range from worrying about the immediate and long-term effects of abuse on their children; how the abuse has affected their confidence as a mother and how to manage ongoing contact with their children’s father post-separation”. Many women report that the problems do not end with separation. As one mother said, “I did not realise how much my child blamed herself for what happened. It was only years later that it all came out. You have to reassure your kids that it was never their fault”.

The book is a result of listening to women in an abusive situation who highlighted the parenting struggle after separating. COPE Galway Waterside House developed the booklet and consulted with women on the Waterside House Service User Refuge Forum (SURF), who felt that a booklet outlining tips for mothers in this situation might be helpful. Their hope is that by sharing both their experiences of parenting in the aftermath of an abusive relationship and by outlining what worked for them, they may be of some help to women going through similar experiences.

The booklet is part of an overall project which aims to raise awareness of what is often a hidden aspect of domestic abuse. It follows NUIG/COPE Galway research findings published in 2016 which showed that 100% of mothers continued to experience abuse after they had separated*.

Christiane Blodau also said, however, “It’s important to note that while domestic abuse can have an adverse effect on women and children having survived abuse as a child, it is not a  ‘life sentence’ for problems in the future. With the right support, we can achieve very positive outcomes. Accessing support is a vital first step for both safety and recovery”.

Other supports in this area provided by COPE Galway Waterside House include the provision of an eight week parenting support programme which was also designed in consultation with women who availed of the service. Theservice also provides a module for professionals to help raise awareness of the difficulties women face trying to parent in this context. 

Professor Pat Dolan of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre will launch “Parenting in the context of Domestic Violence” at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, on Monday, December 4th at 11am. If you would like to attend the launch, please contact COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service at Waterside House – 091 565985.

If you or someone you know in Galway is experiencing domestic abuse or is affected by any of the issues mentioned above phone COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service at Waterside House - 091 565 985 (24h)

*The research, “Parenting in the Context of Domestic Violence – Challenges for Mothers and Implications for Practice.” was carried out by NUIG MA Social Work student Sarah Melvin, and COPE Galway Waterside House as part of a Community Based Research partnership under the Community Knowledge Initiative, which pairs up academia with community based organisations. 

Visit www.copegalway.ie/domesticviolence or follow Twitter @copegalway and Facebook for more.

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For further information contact: Christiane Blodau/Jackie Carroll/Ciara Tyrrell

COPE Galway Waterside House Tel: 091 565 985  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editor:

COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service is the only 24-hour accessible refuge in the Western region.  It provides refuge accommodation, information, support and court accompaniment to women and their children experiencing domestic violence. There is an Outreach service for women in the city and county who are in abusive relationships and who need support and information on their options. In 2016, COPE Galway Domestic Violence Refuge Service worked with 314 individual women with 158 children who were experiencing domestic violence in 2016. We provided 719 outreach appointments, provided 161 court accompaniments, and answered 1709 crisis and support calls.

A new refuge, with 50% increase in capacity, is currently being renovated (works due to commence early 2018) from a building that was gifted to the organisation. It is due for completion at the end of 2018.  We will be launching a new fundraising campaign for this project early next year. 

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