Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Children and domestic violence: emotional competencies in embodied and relational contexts

Callaghan, J., Fellin, L., Alexander, J., Mavrou, S. and Papathanassiou, M. (2017) Children and domestic violence: emotional competencies in embodied and relational contexts. Psychology of Violence. 2152-0828.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: Objective: This paper engages critically with the claim, present in most psychological literature, that children who live with domestic violence are likely to be emotionally incompetent and dysregulated. We explore how children who experience domestic violence make sense of and experience their emotions. Method: 107 young people aged 8-18 (44 boys, 63 girls) from Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom participated in semi-structured and photo elicitation based interviews. These interviews were analysed using Interpretive Interactionism. Results: We identified three common themes relevant to children’s experience of emotions. In the theme Constrained Articulation – Expressing Emotions we explore how children use complex and contextually specific verbal and non-verbal ways to express embodied emotionality. The theme Emotion, Embodiment and Relationality considers how children’s emotionality is not experienced in social isolation, but in relationship with others. The third theme Catharsis, Comfort and Self-Soothing explores children’s strategies for coping with difficult emotions. Conclusions: As reflexive and agentic beings, children experience, manage and express their emotional lives as relational and contextually located. We challenge dominant explanatory models that conceptualise children who live with domestic violence as emotionally incompetent and dysregulated. We argue that these models underestimate the complexity of children’s emotional responses by decontextualising and individualising them as a set of abstract social skills.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Children, contextualization, domestic abuse, domestic violence, emotion regulation, emotions, interpersonal violence, relationships
Creators: Callaghan, Jane, Fellin, Lisa, Alexander, Jo, Mavrou, Stavroula and Papathanassiou, Maria
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: Faculties > Faculty of Health & Society > Psychology
Research Centres > Centre for Health Sciences and Services
Research Centres > Centre for Psychology and Social Sciences
Date: 20 March 2017
Date Type: Published Online
Journal or Publication Title: Psychology of Violence
Language: English
ISSN: 2152-0828
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes

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