The issue of intent, and what exactly is meant by this in understanding child or adolescent to parent violence and abuse, is a complicated one that has generated significant discussion over the last year particularly. It has been suggested (Thorley and Coates) that we are better served by an overarching understanding of young people’s family violence, with a division between those who act aggressively with intent, and those we would struggle to understand doing so. Others disagree, and this has sparked thoughts that perhaps we are misusing the word, and that we should go back to basics in our understanding of how we use this terminology in the wider field of domestic abuse.
I was musing along this line with Kate Iwi, and persuaded her to write something for us!
In the adult domestic violence (DV) field it’s often noted that even in the heat of the moment when a perpetrator says he ‘lost it’ and ‘saw red’ he is still accountable for his behaviour. In part this is because they clearly still retained some control, in the sense that they are setting limits to the level of abuse they are prepared to use. After all, if you are stronger than the other person and/or there are potential weapons around, and you’ve not killed them yet, then you must be setting limits. It’s also noted that victims of DV learn to tread on eggshells – they avoid doing the things that seem to trigger the violence. The aggressor gets their way. Its often concluded that for adult perpetrators, ‘violence is intentional’. Continue reading