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The neglected victims: what (little) we know about child survivors of domestic homicide

  • Peter Mertin (a1)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


The murder of a child’s mother in the context of domestic violence is a traumatic experience which results in multiple stresses affecting the child’s emotional, behavioural and educational functioning. In effect, children lose both parents – their mother as victim and their father in jail or also dead from a murder-suicide – as well as their home, neighbourhood and school as they are relocated, either with extended family members or placed into foster care. In addition, extended family members must cope with their own grief and anger as they attempt to parent these troubled children. Evidence from the papers reviewed indicate that there are no guidelines for determining who is best placed for caring for the children and for providing the safety and stability necessary for recovery, nor for ensuring the provision of therapeutic support for child survivors and their families. There is also evidence to indicate that, left untreated, effects can become long-lasting and carry on into adulthood. Policy implications are considered with a focus on multi-agency family-centred advocacy approaches.


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Author for correspondence: Peter Mertin, Email:


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When originally published, the article included the incorrect address for Peter Mertin. A correction notice has been published and error rectified in the online PDF and HTML.



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