The situation of Alyssa, 6 years old, has been reported to child protection services due to exposure to intimate partner violence. The police recently intervened for an episode of violence. Alyssa and her mother were then taken to a shelter. The mother is medicated for depression related to the violence, especially psychological violence, suffered at the hands of her spouse for several years. The father consumes alcohol and drugs every day. The family lives in very difficult socio-economic conditions and is socially isolated. Alyssa has great difficulty adjusting in school, is anxious and has trouble sleeping.
These situations represent the daily lives of one out of every two children exposed to intimate partner violence.
This is just one example of the significant difficulties faced by the families targeted by this research: families confronted with intimate partner violence in co-occurrence with at least one other parental problem related to mental health or drug or alcohol use.
The first (quantitative) component of this research showed that these situations are not exceptions, but represent the daily lives of one out of every two children exposed to intimate partner violence. Children growing up in such families experience significantly more developmental issues and their parents face additional challenges in exercising their maternal and paternal roles.
The second (qualitative) component provided a deeper understanding of the multiple and complex experiences of mothers, fathers and adolescents in a situation of co-occurrence and explored how they believe help services could better meet their needs.
The final component involved three knowledge transfer seminars with experts from the different practice settings concerned, to identify key recommendations for improving interventions. Finally, clinical consultations involving various experts were tested to provide more continuous and consistent assistance to these families.
Main researcher: Geneviève Lessard, Université Laval
Original title: Maternité et paternité en contexte de violence conjugale : problématiques associées et enjeux de concertation