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

Article


Callaghan, J. E. M., Fellin, L., Alexander, J. H., Mavrou, S and Papathanaasiou, M 2017. Children and domestic violence: Emotional competencies in embodied and relational contexts. Psychology of Violence. 7 (3), pp. 333-342.
AuthorsCallaghan, J. E. M., Fellin, L., Alexander, J. H., Mavrou, S and Papathanaasiou, M
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.

KeywordsChildren; domestic violence; emotions; relationships; contextualization
JournalPsychology of Violence
Journal citation7 (3), pp. 333-342
ISSN2152-0828
2152-081X
Year2017
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1037/vio0000108
Publication dates
OnlineJul 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Feb 2017
Accepted06 Feb 2017
Accepted06 Feb 2017
Copyright information©American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/vio0000108
LicenseAll rights reserved
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