Practitioners from all the helping professions — housing, refuges, education, health, social services, court welfare, police, criminal justice — come into contact with families who have experienced domestic violence. However, because of the secrecy and fear that silences families who are experiencing violent behaviour at home its existence often goes unrecognised. There are many reasons for this. Accounts by professionals (Bell, 1996) and by women themselves suggest that mothers do not disclose it because they fear retribution. Many are afraid of being judged incompetent as parents and of having their children removed if they approach statutory agencies. It is probable that women from Asian communities in the United Kingdom experience even greater family and social pressures to maintain silence, pressures exacerbated by problems of language or ignorance of available services, and by racism (Adams, 1998 ). Male partners avoid discussion or minimise violent events — often by blaming alcohol (Ptacek, 1988), while children use a range of strategies to avoid discussing it (Mullender, 1996). Research also provides evidence of a reluctance on the part of professionals to see domestic violence. In perusing social work files, Milner (1996) found that social workers failed to record the existence of violence or to mention it in meetings, often referring to it in gender-neutral terms, where it was reframed as marital conflict or fighting.
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