Abused women and the threat of parental alienation: Shelter workers' perspectives

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Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 120-126
Based on quantitative and qualitative data collected in 30 domestic violence shelters in the Province of Québec (Canada), the research findings reveal a noticeable increase in the perceived number of women being accused or threatened to be accused of parental alienation; the accusations or threats of accusations reported in the last year by respondents represented 45% of all the accusations reported in the last 5 years (Last year: 4.27, SD = 3.80. Last 5 years: 9.47, SD = 10.04). A large majority of respondents (86.7%) stated that this phenomenon had had an impact on their practices in shelters, and more than half (53.3%) expressed that this issue had been either a priority for their shelters or one of their main concerns. Based on the research findings, the authors argue that domestic violence perpetrators use “parental alienation” as a tactic to discredit reports of abuse by women and children. By embracing this discourse, child protection services and the family court system reproduce the perpetrators' accounts and discredit reports of abuse by women and children, and therefore undermine their core mandate.

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Province / Territory
Canadian CW research
Journal article