battered women; child protection workers; failure to protect; domestic violence; battered mothers


This study explored battered mothers’ perceptions of their interactions with child protective services (CPS) workers to increase understanding about how child welfare workers and policies can have negative as well as positive impacts on women’s and children’s lives. The research was guided by two feminist frameworks: structured action theory and social entrapment theory. Twenty women participated in the in-depth, qualitative interviews. Most felt misunderstood and unsupported by their CPS workers and thought that this treatment directly harmed them and their children. Many batterers manipulated caseworkers and escaped sanctions, which contributed to negative consequences. Some women received helpful responses from their caseworkers and viewed such support as invaluable. Implications for social work practice are discussed.


Original Citation: Johnson, Susan P., and Cris M. Sullivan. "How Child Protection Workers Support or Further Victimize Battered Mothers." Journal of Women and Social Work 23, no. 3 (2008): 242-258.