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Hold fathers accountable while also acknowledging their roles as parents

Our role is to listen with empathy to fathers, and to understand their experiences, beliefs and perceptions. We acknowledge and respect a father’s role as a parent and caregiver. We do this while also letting him know that his use of violence is never excusable.

How we speak about domestic violence, both in practice and society more broadly, has traditionally focused on the actions of the mother, she is expected to leave to be considered a good mother to her children, even if this places her in more danger.

But the father makes decisions to use violence and can make decisions to stop using violence. Historically, we have failed to hold fathers accountable for their violence and we have minimised their role as a parent. This has made them ‘invisible’ in child protection practice.

Fathers often do not connect their violence towards their partners with an impact on their children. This can happen regardless of the fact that many fathers will use their children in an attempt to gain power and control over mothers, often by undermining the mother–child relationship—itself a form of abuse.

Practice prompt

Using violence is a parenting choice some men make to directly harm children or interfere with and disrupt the mother’s ability and capacity to parent the children safely and effectively.

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