Respectful relationships can follow exposure of parent abuse

The 2010 report, Exposing the dark side of parenting: A report on parents’ experiences of family violence, published by the Regional Alliance Addressing Child and Adolescent Violence in the Home, South Australia, documented the results of a public phone-in exercise which took place in Southern Australia in 2008, designed to contribute to the body of knowledge on parent abuse. The report is important not just for its findings, which are broadly congruent with other similar studies, but also for the series of recommendations made: (i) the raising of community and agency awareness about child and adolescent family violence, (ii) the training and development for professionals about appropriate resources, (iii) the provision of effective accessible support for families and (iv) the establishment of a dedicated agency to provide ongoing support to parents, families and young people.

The launch in Adelaide, on February 24th 2012, of Respectful Relationships, a new project aimed at providing support to families and carers and equipping professionals with knowledge about violent and abusive behaviour from children and teenagers, comes as a direct result of this earlier research. In partnership with Relationships Australia (SA) and Southern Junction Community Services, the project will make a wallet card called Walking on Eggshells available to assist and inform families, while a series of training seminars will be held in the coming months to better empower helping professionals to handle cases of teen violence.

Mary McKenna, lecturer in law at Flinders University,and co-author of the 2010 report, has noted an increasing acknowledgement by professionals in Southern Australia of the problems parents can experience, and also an increasing acceptance that they need to be careful not to re-victimise – although she says there is still a long way to go. She is hopeful that the project will continue to develop and adapt resources as they are tested.


Filed under projects, publications

2 responses to “Respectful relationships can follow exposure of parent abuse

  1. Hi. I’m wondering where I might find examples re how to best respond to verbal and emotional abuse from my future step-daughter [we’re engaged – but the verbal and emotional abuse started before our relationship] towards her father, including in my presence. At the moment, I say minimal things like “ouch!” when she’s so verbally and emotionally cruel to him. She occasionally throws things and does things such as turning off the tv when he wants to watch it, keeping hold of the remote, etc. Mostly it’s verbal stuff, like “but-out Dad!” when he contributes to a discussion – but there are also times when she screams in pure rage [plus or minus throws something], then won’t talk to him for a week. I’m teaching her to drive, currently, but she’s starting to be rude to me now, too and I’m considering not to continue the lessons unless she changes her attitude to me – ?and to her dad]. This may be too much, or not enough info, I’d just love to know some good phrases for him – or me – to use when she’s SO rude/cruel to him. Perhaps you could even email me a copy of the group info u used when running the course for professionals or parents?? I have a social worker background but we never covered situtations like this. By way of background: a) she witnessed intermittent verbal – and occasional physical abuse – directed to her father, by her late mother & also one of her older brothers, up until the age of 10, when her mother died [and the much older brother moved out – they’re still in good contact]. As an observer, they are a high conflict family and don’t have good self awareness, communication skills or impulse control, when emotional [and the 16yo girl is very easily and very commonly angered, many times per day – and to the point of rage, every other day]. Thank you, in hope of a quick reply, as things are escalating in recent weeks. Sincerely, Gram. PS: Last year, on one rare occasion, she cried when talking about her volatile moods but she refuses to have any counselling and although her father is often very stressed about this, I think he thinks it’s ‘normal’, because it’s how his late wife used to treat him sometimes too. She will not talk about things with me, except to demonise her father, who occasionally snaps back in anger after she has ‘baited’ him many, many times. His occasional requests for her to speak respectfully to him, fall on deaf ears.

    • Gram, I believe you are in Australia and so my advice to you would be to explore the contacts listed in the recently launched Walking on Eggshells materials. You will find a link to them in my post of that name. I am sure you will be advised that the important things are to be consistent and to work together with your partner to solve this one – but most importantly to find the support of good friends who believe you and are rooting for you. I wish you hope in your situation and happiness with your new partner.

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