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Record ID: 3c93c05b-1db3-47f4-bb0a-eda4f8efdc1d
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Type: Journal Article
Title: Silenced Mothers: Exploring Definitions of Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Implications for Practice
Authors: Lynch, Deborah
Burck, David
Walsh, Deborah
ANRA Topic: Drivers of violence against women
Children and young people
ANRA Population: General population
Children and young people population
Categories: Understanding victimisation and perpetration, and their impacts
ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
Year: 2019
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research
Citation: Volume 21, No. 1
Abstract:  This paper highlights inconsistencies in how child/adolescent-to-parent violence (CPV) is defined. Definitions of CPV range from descriptions based on instances of physical assault to broad perceptions of violence, which include coercive control behaviours. Too much focus on physical violence has limited a broader exploration about the dynamics of CPV, which has disguised the gendered nature of this phenomenon. This literature review incorporates peer-reviewed quantitative studies, qualitative research with mothers, surveys of adolescents, youth justice court/law reviews, family therapy case studies and reviews of both “child-to-parent violence” and “adolescent-to-parent violence.” Key research in this area has overlooked the complex interplay between context, power and control dynamics that are clearly evident in the CPV experience. Reviewing the literature has uncovered how gender is rendered invisible and how research needs to move towards language such as: child/adolescent-to-mother violence or child/adolescent-to-mother abuse.

Keywords:Adolescent-to-parent violence; Child-to-parent Violence; Domestic violence; Family violence

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This project explores the multi-layered experience of adolescent-to-mother violence within families who have experienced domestic violence.


This project’s broad aims are to describe the lived experience of mothers and young people where there is a history of domestic violence from an intimate partner and adolescent-to-mother violence, and to explore how that impacts mothers’ experiences of adolescent-to-mother violence.


The project uses in-depth interviews with mothers and young people, ages 12 to 17, to shed light on their lived experience and the complexity of adolescent-to-mother violence. Mothers all have experienced domestic violence from an intimate partner and are currently experiencing adolescent-to-mother violence.

Methodologically, the project incorporates a phenomenological stance in line with Martin Heidegger’s view of describing the lived experience and an intersectional feminist lens. Interviews with mothers and adolescents explore different aspects of adolescent-to-mother violence.

Conceptually, the use of an intersectional feminist lens will provide an opportunity to explore the adolescent-to-mother violence experience from a coercive control perspective. Moreover, the intersectional feminism lens will include experiences from a variety of perspectives from different social categories women identify with, and explore the role service providers play in women’s help-seeking behaviour and decision-making.


The significance of research in this area lies in how a greater understanding of adolescent-to-mother violence, within the context of the current service provider environment, can be applied to family interventions. Information gleaned from this project will give academics and support workers a better understanding of adolescent-to-mother violence, which will inform professional responses and support services. A more coordinated and effective support service response may provide mothers with a therapeutic option before turning to the police, as well as possibly reduce the risk of adolescents using violence with future partners.


The University of Queensland




April 2018


April 2022

Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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