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Mothers of Violent Children with Mental Illness: How They Perceive Barriers to Effective Help

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to understand how mothers perceive and experience barriers to effective help for their violent child with mental illness. Data from ethnographic interviews with 26 self-identified mothers of violent children with mental illness were analyzed using grounded theory and focused coding. Our study identified three themes that represent barriers to help: (1) denial of mental illness and severity of violence by treatment providers, extended family, and non-family members; (2) limited access to quality treatment and supports; and (3) a recurring cycle from optimism to hopelessness. To inform policy makers and practitioners on how best to remove these barriers, we draw comparisons between the current sample and survivors of intimate partner violence. Our paper concludes with recommendations for mental health practitioners and family intervention specialists.

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Acknowledgements

This article grew out of the first author’s dissertation research, directed by Dr. Pete Simi at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This research was partially funded by the Graduate Research and Creative Activity (GRACA) grant, awarded by Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. We would like to thank Dr. Emily Wright at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for her help with brainstorming and earlier drafts of this manuscript.

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Sporer, K., Radatz, D.L. Mothers of Violent Children with Mental Illness: How They Perceive Barriers to Effective Help. J Fam Viol 32, 683–697 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-017-9935-2

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Keywords

  • Child-to-parent abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Barriers to help
  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence