A qualitative exploration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parents’ experiences of parental alienation in the United Kingdom

Burhai, Luiza-Maria, Hine, Ben, Bates, Elizabeth ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8694-8078 and Chuang, Sue (2024) A qualitative exploration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parents’ experiences of parental alienation in the United Kingdom. Partner Abuse . Item availability may be restricted.

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In the aftermath of the global Covid-19 pandemic, it has been highlighted how measures necessary to fight the disease inadvertently exacerbated family violence and placed strain on the judicial system. Across the four countries within the United Kingdom (UK), delays were, and still are, particularly prevalent in family law proceedings, partly due to new breaches in child arrangement orders associated with the pandemic lockdown. The present study therefore examined the experiences of non-resident parents (NRPs) who self-identified as targets of behaviours representative of Parental Alienation (PA) during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Using an online survey, 76 non-residential parents’ responses (92% male, Mage = 45.1 years of age; SD = 7.9) were thematically analyzed. Several themes emerged, including: (1) experiences of parental alienation (i.e., risks for children and risks for parents), (2) intimate partner violence (IPV) (i.e., emotional abuse, physical abuse, and financial abuse), and (3) institutional abuse (i.e., Covid-19, family law, and safeguarding). Specifically, parents detailed several alienating behaviours such as belittling, manipulation and coercive control, as well as novel forms of coercive controlling patterns which illustrated how the COVID-19 lockdowns created new opportunities for alienating parents to manipulate the non-resident parent-child relationship. The implications of results are discussed, including recommendations on improving safeguarding protocols for children with contact orders in place, and adopting policy measures to support non-resident parents. These are also discussed in the context of reforming the justice system utilizing COVID-associated “lessons.”

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Partner Abuse
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1946-6579
Departments: Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Depositing User: Elizabeth Bates
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2024 11:01
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 11:01
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/7635
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