Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 455–473 | Cite as

Children’s Descriptions of Participation Processes in Interventions for Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

  • Åsa K. CaterEmail author


In recent years, interventions have been developed to meet the needs of children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV). This study explores and analyses processes of participation during counselling as described by 29 children who had received community-based intervention for children exposed to IPV. The results of the analysis show how participation processes in the different phases of the intervention are related to three prerequisites for children actually receiving the intervention offered, namely (1) the child getting in contact with the unit, (2) the child starting the intervention process, and, because the intervention is directed at their experiences of IPV, and (3) the child actually talking about the violence. The implications of these results are used to discuss children’s willingness and reluctance to talk about IPV during interventions in which talking about their experiences is thought to be of therapeutic value.


Child participation Intimate partner violence Children exposed to domestic violence Intervention Disclosure 



This study was supported by a Grant from the Uppsala Regional Council in Sweden. This support does not necessarily imply endorsement by the funder of research conclusions.


  1. Andersson, G. (1998). Barnintervju som forskningsmetod [Child interview as research method]. Nordisk Psykologi, 50(1), 18–41.Google Scholar
  2. Arnell, A., & Ekbom, I. (2000). “Then he kicked Mummy…” interviewing children who have witnessed violence in the family. Stockholm: Save the Children.Google Scholar
  3. Broberg, A., Almqvist, L., Axberg, U., Grip, K., Almqvist, K., Sharifi, U., et al. (2011). Stöd till barn som upplevt våld mot mamma—Resultat från en nationell utvärdering [Support to children who have witnessed violence against their mothers—Results from a national evaluation study]. Göteborg: Göteborgs Universitet.Google Scholar
  4. Cater, Å. K. (2009). Trappan-modellen för samtal med barn som upplevt våld i familjen—en utvärdering för metodutveckling [The Stairs-model for talking to children who have experienced violence in their family—An evaluation for method development]. Regionförbundet Uppsala län FoU-rapport 2009/3.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., & Iyengar, S. (2011). Community treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder for children exposed to intimate partner violence. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 165(1), 16–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., Murray, L. K., & Igelman, R. (2006). Psychosocial interventions for maltreated and violence-exposed children. Journal of Social Issues, 62(4), 737–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cox, C., Kotch, J., & Everson, M. (2003). A longitudinal study of modifying influences in the relationship between domestic violence and child maltreatment. Journal of Family Violence, 18(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davies, P. T., & Cummings, E. M. (2006). Interparental discord, family process, and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Vol. 3: Risk, disorder, and adaptation (2nd ed., pp. 86–128). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  9. Edleson, J. L. (1999). Children’s witnessing of adult domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 839–870. doi: 10.1177/088626099014008004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (2007). Poly-victimization: A neglected component in child victimization. Child Abuse and Neglect, 31, 7–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Franklin, B. (1997). The ladder of participation in matters concerning children. In J. Boyden & J. Ennew (Eds.), Children in focus: a manual for participatory research with children. Stockholm: Grafisk Press.Google Scholar
  12. Geffner, R., Spurling Igelmann, R., & Zellner, J. (2003). The effects of intimate partner violence on children. Binghamton, NY: Hayworth.Google Scholar
  13. Graham-Bermann, S. (2001). Designing intervention evaluations for children exposed to domestic violence: Applications of theory and research. In S. Graham-Bermann & J. L. Edleson (Eds.), Domestic violence in the lives of children: The future of research, intervention, and social policy (1st ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.Google Scholar
  14. Graham-Bermann, S. A., Kulkarni, M. R., & Kanukollu, S. N. (2011). Is disclosure therapeutic for children following exposure to traumatic violence? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(5), 1056–1076. doi: 10.1177/0886260510365855 (Epub 6 May 2010).Google Scholar
  15. Greig, A., & Taylor, J. (1999). Doing research with children. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Hamby, S., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Ormrod, R. (2010). The overlap of witnessing partner violence with child maltreatment and other victimizations in a nationally representative survey of youth. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34, 734–741. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.03.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hart, R. (1992). Children’s Participation: From tokenism to citizenship. Florence: UNICEF International Child Development Centre.Google Scholar
  18. Herrenkohl, T. I., Sousa, C., Tajima, E. A., Herrenkohl, R. C., & Moylan, C. A. (2008). Intersection of child abuse and children’s exposure to domestic violence. Trauma Violence Abuse, 9, 84–99. doi: 10.1177/1524838008314797.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hook, A., & Andrews, B. (2005). The relationships of non-disclosure in therapy to shame and depression. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 325–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Howell, K. H. (2011). Resilience and psychopathology in children exposed to family violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16(6), 562–569. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2011.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15, 1277–1288. doi: 10.1177/1049732305276687.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hubble, M. A., Duncan, B. L., & Miller, S. D. (2000). The heart and soul of change: What works in therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.Google Scholar
  23. Jaffee, S. R., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Taylor, A., & Arseneault, L. (2002). Influence of adult domestic violence on children’s internalizing and externalizing problems: An environmentally informative twin study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(9), 1095–1103.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Jouriles, E. N., McDonald, R., Spiller, L., Norwood, W. D., Swank, P. R., Stephens, N., et al. (2001). Reducing conduct problems among children of battered woman. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(5), 774–785.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Korkman, J., Santtila, P., Westeråker, M., & Sandnabba, N. K. (2008). Interviewing techniques and follow-up questions in child sexual abuse interviews. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5(1), 108–128. doi: 10.1080/17405620701210460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Levendosky, A., Huth-Bocks, A., Shapiro, D., & Semel, M. (2003). The impact of domestic violence on the maternal–child relationship and pre-school-age children’s functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 275–288. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.17.3.275.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lieberman, A. F., van Horn, P., & Ippen, C. G. (2005). Towards evidence-based treatment: Child–parent psychotherapy with preschoolers exposed to marital violence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(12), 1241–1248.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Mullender, A. (2006). What children tell us: ‘He Said He Was Going to Kill Our Mum’. In C. Humphries & N. Stanley (Eds.), Domestic violence and child protection—Directions for good practice. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  29. Mullender, A., Hague, G., Imam, U., Kelly, L., Malos, E., & Regan, L. (2002). Children’s perspectives on domestic violence. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Øverlien, C., & Hydén, M. (2009). Children’s actions when experiencing domestic violence. Childhood, 16(4), 479–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Prinz, R. J., & Feerick, M. M. (2003). Next steps in research on children exposed to domestic violence. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6, 215–219.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Ragg, M. D., & Webb, C. (1992). Group treatment for the preschool child witness of spouse abuse. Journal of Child and Youth Care, 7(1), 1–19.Google Scholar
  34. Shirk, S. R., & Karver, M. (2003). Prediction of treatment outcome from relationship variables in child and adolescent therapy: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 452–464.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Silverman, D. (2000). Doing qualitative research—A practical handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Sinclair, R. (2004). Participation in practice: Making it meaningful, effective and sustainable. Children and Society, 18, 106–118. doi: 10.1002/CHI.817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sinclair, R., & Franklin, A. (2000). Young people’s participation. In Quality protects research briefing. London: Department of Health.Google Scholar
  38. Skopp, N. A., Manke, B., McDonald, R., & Jouriles, E. N. (2005). Siblings in domestically violent families: Experiences of interparent conflict and adjustment problems. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(2), 324–333.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Thomas, N. (2007). Towards a theory of children’s participation. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 15, 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Treseder, P. (1997). Empowering children and young people: Training manual: Promoting involvement in decision-making. London: Save the Children.Google Scholar
  41. Turner, H. A., Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, R. (2010). Poly-victimization in a national sample of children and youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38(3), 323–330.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. UNICEF FACT SHEET: The right to participation. Retrieved April 11, 2013 from
  43. Wagar, J. M., & Rodway, M. R. (1995). An evaluation of a group treatment approach for children who have witnessed wife abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 10(3), 295–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. WHO. (2002). World report on violence and health. Genève: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  45. Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., Lee, V., McIntyre-Smith, A., & Jaffe, P. G. (2003). The effects of children’s exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis and critique. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6, 171–186. doi: 10.1023/A:1024910416164.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Psychology and Social WorkÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

Personalised recommendations