Journal Article

Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in the Context of Divorce: Issues for Mothers

CATHERINE HUMPHREYS

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 4, pages 529-544
Published in print August 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjsw.a011240
Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in the Context of Divorce: Issues for Mothers

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The investigation and assessment of allegations of child sexual abuse constitute a difficult and contentious area for practitioners involved in this process. When these allegations emerge in the context of divorce, the problems of assessment appear to be compounded. This paper argues that when mothers raise concerns about child sexual abuse during divorce proceedings these are often construed as vindictive or misguided. Such constructions of mothers have significant implications for the protection, or lack of protection of children in these circumstances. The way in which this ‘knowledge’ about mothers has developed is explored and held up against the results of empirical studies which show that there is little basis for this construction of mothers. Possible explanations for this incongruity are suggested with a view to progressing child protection in this area.

As the court cases go on I can see the hopelessness of the whole thing. It's getting stronger in me to want to take the law into my own hands. I wouldn't say it's revenge, it's not … I mean a mother protects its young. You wouldn't see a lioness letting something attack its young.

(A mother expressing her desperation that the Family Court of Australia has ordered her to send her child on visits to her ex-husband who she believes sexually abused their child.)

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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