#CPV PhD gives a voice to young people.

I am pleased to share the synopsis of a recently completed PhD in the area of child to parent violence, sent to me by Dr Alexandra Papamichail, who has been studying at Brighton University.

My qualitative study explored a form of family violence, namely, child-to-parent violence. The aim was to fill a gap in the literature by giving voice to young people whose voices have been marginalised, as well as to professionals who work with them in the UK. I focused on familial relationships and contexts within which young people are embedded, their psychological states and how these are linked with violent behaviour. The work drew on theories of attachment, developmental trauma and family-systems and emerged from a practitioner-researcher perspective within the disciplinary area of developmental psychology and psychopathology.

I conducted participant-observation and interviews with eight young people from two different intervention programmes aiming to tackle violence against parents. In addition, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five professionals. All data were analysed from a critical realist perspective using inductive, thematic analysis.

A detailed account of the findings will be presented soon in a paper currently in preparation (Papamichail, 2018). The commonalities with developmental trauma are underlined; similarly, the commonalities with the characteristics of “borderline personality disorder (BPS)”1 are addressed for the first time in the UK (Papamichail, 2018). My study fills the gap of psychologically informed research in the UK as well as the gap of the literature regarding young people’s perspectives. It problematises the current practice in the field and suggests a new synthesis informed by tailored interventions, attachment and trauma theory, upon which evidence-based interventions may be based.

1 In alignment with the guidelines of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society (2015) regarding the language used in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses, I have chosen to demonstrate my scepticism toward the usefulness of terms such as “borderline personality disorder” by placing them in parentheses (British Psychological Society 2015, p. 3).

Dr Alexandra Papamichail has completed her Ph.D in developmental psychology and psychopathology and she is currently working in the field of mental health research. Anyone who is interested to find more about the study, share views and experiences about young people’s violence against parents feel free to contact at alexpapamic@gmail.com.


Filed under Research

2 responses to “#CPV PhD gives a voice to young people.

  1. Diane Rhodes

    My daughter always showed aggression from an early age, but, my husband and I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening even when she would suddenly slam her head back into his face for no reason when she was sitting on his lap watching TV. Tragically my husband died suddenly when she was 6 and I was shocked at how little she cared, even years later she behaved like it was no big deal.After a while of trying to deal with her behaviour I tried to get help. The Community nurse came to the house and spoke to us both, what happened made her agree there were issues with her and we were referred to a child psychologist who spoke to my daughter alone and I wasn’t even allowed in the room or talked to him. His verdict was she misbehaved as a reaction to her father’s death, nonsense as she behaved exactly the same before my husband died. So began the years of escalating abuse and violence and no help. She tried to kill me and herself several times by grabbing the steering wheel in rage and swerving the car into opposite traffic or a wall,, the police were called out and they treated me like the one with problems as how could a 16 year old want to hurt her mother? Visits to the GP got me nowhere, even when, in desperation I recorded one of her violent outbursts while I hid, barricaded in my bedroom and played it to my GP, desperate to be believed I was treated like I was the one with the problem. I was afraid to go to sleep at night, I tried to kick her out, but, she just sneered at me and it only stopped when I told her to get a job or sign on as she lived off me, or move out. She chose to move out, she was 22 and I hoped it would change her, I was wrong, she came for Christmas and it ended in violence for no reason she just got into a rage.. She has decided to tell everyone how awful and rotten I was and my reputation is mud in my town as my family, who knew what was going on and did nothing, have backed her pack of lies. I came close to being killed several times, chased me with knives, attempted strangulation, injuries that were ignored by the professionals because they chose to believe her. Our Mother/child relationship is no more, I never want to see her again and I break my heart for her Father,she was planned and adored which is why we ignored the signs. For years I felt shame that I couldn’t control my own child and her lack of respect and care for me, it was all my own fault, wasn’t it? Or perhaps things may have been different if those who knew and those who I sought help from had taken me seriously and not automatically believed the child because, she was a ‘child’ despite being bigger and stronger than me. I look back on the years as a nightmare that I m only just emerging from and I don’t want any other parent to be ignored like I was.

    • Thank you Diane for your comment. I am so sorry to hear of your experience, first at the hands of your daughter and then compounded by those you hoped might help. I know that you have spoken out so that other parents might know that they are not alone. Many of us are working now to improve responses and resources, but I realise that it will take time for all families to receive a proper offer of support. We believe that it is frequently the case that the young people themselves are very unhappy about their level of violence and the damage to the relationship; and the work that Dr Alexandra Papamichail and others are undertaking is important in helping us to understand their experience.

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