Child witnesses of wife assault: what are the outcomes?

Tuck, Karen (1996) Child witnesses of wife assault: what are the outcomes? Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

Children who witness wife assault may be helped by appropriate intervention. This study sought to discover from teenagers, who witnessed abuse as children, whether a specific program of intervention in which they participated some years earlier had longstanding positive benefit. As well, in describing the efficacy of such a program, a better understanding about the recovery needs of children was gained. Seven adolescents (ages 14-16) from Eastern Newfoundland, Canada, participated in two ninety-minute interview sessions. A combination of open and close-ended questions focused on how being witness to wife assault shaped their attitudes and on their opinions of the program. Child witnesses presented a picture of homelife in which abusive episodes were woven into the fabric of daily living. The witnessing of the violence, along with the emotional climate, was depicted as an integrated experience and one which had lasted from their earliest remembrances until they escaped with their mothers. Fear, anger and helplessness characterized their immediate responses to the violence. The sense of loss with respect to place of origin, family, friends and childhood milestones was described as a more long-term response. Maintaining a close relationship with the mother was a significant way in which participants tried to cope with their feelings. In attempts to stop the violence participants would actively urge their mothers to leave, try to keep the peace with the abuser or, failing those, would fantasize about a peaceful life. The participants were divided in their perceptions about the positive benefit of the group intervention. Four teens had actively worked at promoting change in their behaviors and attitudes, attributing their positive outlook to two factors. First, they were no longer living with abuse and, secondly, they had the opportunity to be involved in the group experience and to talk about their lives. Breaking the isolation was vitally important in allowing them to make sense of their lives. Three participants questioned the usefulness of the program. They did not feel that, even though they had left the abusive situations, their lives were much improved; nor did they view the world with a sense of optimism. They felt that they had to look after themselves, by themselves, trusting nobody else to help. Their willingness to participate in this research, however, suggests that they may be open to further intervention in an attempt to understand and accept their past. The intervention program had positive outcomes and could be used with confidence by helping professionals. More importantly, the themes identified should be useful information for individuals working with child witnesses of wife assault in the home.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5001
Item ID: 5001
Additional Information: Includes in Appendix A: Manual for a group program for children exposed to wife abuse / written and compiled by Susan Kaye Wilson...[et al.] 1986. Bibliography: leaves 103-111.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Children and violence; Family violence--Psychological aspects ;Child witnesses--Counseling of

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