“Powerful but dangerous”: telling stories about #CPV

Telling real human stories helps communicate hard, complicated issues to the wider public through the media, but anyone doing so should think carefully about what they are prepared to say and what the consequences might be, writes Karyn McCluskey.

I have written something similar to this in the past, but it always bears repeating … Think carefully before you put yourself and your family forward as a “case study”. Given that I myself put put shouts from time to time for people willing to speak to the press, I grant that this could be construed as hypocritical. I do believe that it is important for people to hear what it is really like to experience child to parent violence, and that without the personal stories it will take much longer for the reality of this tragedy to permeate the general consciousness. I know too that parents have heard another person speak about the help they have received, and it has been the starting point for their own journey back. But I also understand how damaging, and even dangerous,  it might be if you say things you later regret, or your child finds out you have mentioned them, or your family is recognised in some way. And that’s before you start reading the comments from people after the piece is published. Some journalists are happy for interviewees to remain anonymous. Others want to use names and faces, but even the former is not without potential difficulties.


So it seemed particularly ironic to me that I put out the most recent request for anyone willing to be interviewed, the same day I saw this piece in the Scotsman from Karyn McCluskey. What Karyn says is important for families to think about, and also a warning to those of us who make the requests.

  • What do you hope to add by using a personal story?
  • How much detail is really needed?
  • What does consent mean when someone is very vulnerable?

Please do read the whole piece. It’s certainly worth thinking about more!


(January 30th.) There has been so much interest in the original article and discussion on twitter, that I thought it worth adding some more thoughts.

Firstly: How much do we truly value the input of people in this situation?  Parents, families, individuals are often asked to contribute their experience at conferences or other events, but for no fee, perhaps just expenses. If we really value the input of those with lived experience, and we want to make use of their expertise (for our ends) then we need to be demonstrating this value in a more appropriate and honest way! A proper fee at the very least. Or how can individuals be brought on board as paid up members of our organisation? (Thank you June for raising this.)

Secondly, The_battered_parent makes an important point about the hopefully transient nature of this. Young people can and do change and that is what we are working to bring about: I hide behind this name to speak about #CPV. My experience needs to be heard yet we as a family need to heal, reunite & move forward. I don’t want people to know my son for the bad choices made in his teen years. He’ll be an adult soon & will need to find a job…

Thanks again. Keep those comments coming!



Filed under Discussion

2 responses to ““Powerful but dangerous”: telling stories about #CPV

  1. Jo Todd, Respect

    I totally agree. If it’s part of someone’s activism and is done in a considered and supported way it can be hugely powerful. When done ad hoc and without support it can be hugely damaging. Organisations that have developed survivor groups (eg Welsh Women’s Aid’s SEEDS group, Women’s Aid Federation England’s Survivor Ambassadors, SafeLives Pioneers) where they provide a lot of support and training are the right way to do it. Pushing back on journalist’s requests which don’t take time and care to make it a positive and safe experience, is part of our role as responsible charities.

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