Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Children’s services and victim blaming

I used to work as a family support worker for a local authority - not a social worker, but we often did support with families who had high levels of need. We would refer families to social care if we thought they needed help from a statutory agency, but it was difficult to meet thresholds (for lots of different reasons)
I worked with a family where the mum was horrifically abused by her partner, he threatened her with a knife, he said he was going to kill her and kept breaking into the property. She didn't want to move into a refuge away from her friends and family but I was very worried about the children (who were witnessing the violence).
I referred the family to social care and the social worker responsible for new cases said 'what does she expect, if she keeps taking him back?' I felt that there was a distinct lack of understanding of the issues related to domestic violence with some social workers.
They didn't take the controlling nature of the abuser into account and I felt that (in this case, at least), they just expected the woman to 'leave' by magically overcoming the control and being able to restore all the self-esteem that he'd taken away from her.
I'd hope that this is a one-off but it would be interesting if any social workers comment on this site.



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4 thoughts on “Children’s services and victim blaming

  • Admin says:

    Thank you for sharing this experience. It would be helpful to get some feedback from social workers regarding what type of training they access around the issue of domestic violence.

  • anon says:

    I am a social worker in a child protection/safeguarding team and I am also a survivor of an abusive relationship. Training in my area is provided by women’s aid.
    I do believe that unless you have been in that situation you may never fully understand why a victim simply cannot leave. My colleagues are all well educated professionals and sometimes this in itself impedes their understanding eg They are able,to make decisions themselves therefore why can others not do the same.
    Sadly there are many cases where, despite intensive support, the women simply cannot make that break and unfortunately the decisions have to be made to remove children from the environment.
    I have to say that in those situations I myself find it difficult to fathom why a mother would not make that break. However when the family history is explored very often we find that those mothers were themselves raised within an abusive relationship and are therefore somewhat desensitized to the abuse and not able to recognise an unhealthy and abusive relationship.
    I still feel it is early days in raising awareness of domestic abuse and only now are the younger generations being educated

  • similar story says:

    The social services are far too quick to up the thresholds when you have a disabled child. In my experience they need better training and do not reflect upon their practice. The results for myself and my child have been a tragedy and as a survivor of domestic abuse and child abuse and with training at a women’s centre I had hoped to protect my small family from the abusive and heavy handed upping or the interventions of the social services. Unfortunately for all ourselves’ personal and emotional safety this has not been possible. I am most certainly not a perpetrator, nor do I like the term victim. However, there is an injustice somewhere along the line and the outcomes have been devastating placing my child in harm’s way because of the inability to apply and adapt policies effectively. He has now been given precisely the wrong type of care and treatment. The social services always gloss and refresh their results for auditing purposes, it keeps all their mortgages paid. I have had no joy from the complaints process.