Beyond Voice: Conceptualizing Children's Agency in Domestic Violence Research Through a Dialogical Lens
AuthorMorris, A; Humphreys, C; Hegarty, K
Source TitleInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS INC
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsMorris, A., Humphreys, C. & Hegarty, K. (2020). Beyond Voice: Conceptualizing Children's Agency in Domestic Violence Research Through a Dialogical Lens. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF QUALITATIVE METHODS, 19, https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920958909.
Access StatusOpen Access
Children who live in households where domestic violence is occurring have been variously described in the literature over time as silent witnesses, witnesses, a cohort who is “exposed” to the violence, and more recently, as individual victim survivors and active agents in their own right, each with their own lived experience of violence. Research methodologies in this arena have shifted from adult-focused measurements of the impacts of domestic violence on children to more qualitative attempts to understand the experience from the child’s perspective. In doing so, there have been notions of giving “voice to the voiceless” and doing no further harm through a desire to protect children from exposure. However, the relational framing of children’s voices and recognition and enabling of children’s agency is less evolved in research and professional interventions. A study undertaken in Australia researched with a primary care population of 23 children and 18 mothers, children’s experiences of safety and resiliency in the context of domestic violence. The findings of the research were realized using qualitative research methods with children and the analytical framing of hermeneutical phenomenology, ethics of care and in particular dialogical ethics, to draw practical understanding and application in health care settings. This article aims to demonstrate how the analytical methodology chosen was applied in the research process and reveals the elements required for children to experience agency in navigating their relationships in an unsafe world, while learning about themselves. It draws upon understandings of the child’s relational context and introduces a model of children’s agency, which may have applicability for domestic violence policy and practice settings.
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