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L: “If I killed you, I’d get the kids": women’s survival and protection work with child custody and access in the context of woman abuse

By Colleen Varcoe and Lori G. Irwin


Public interest in child custody and access has intensified under the guise of gender neutrality and without adequate attention to gender based violence. A study of formal systems ’ responses to abuse by intimate partners identified child custody and access as a central issue. Interviews with women revealed that upon leaving abusive partners, women’s work involved the contradictory requirements of preserving the children’s relationships with, yet protecting them from, their fathers. Interviews with service providers and document analysis illustrated how certain practices, policies and ideologies create and sustain these requirements. Findings illustrate that gender analysis and accounting for violence in custody and access practice are necessary to the safety of women and children. KEY WORDS: child custody; woman abuse; violence against women; participatory action research

Year: 2014
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