Child's Play? Children and Young People's Resistances to Domestic Violence and Abuse

Lisa C. Fellin, Jane E.M. Callaghan, Joanne H. Alexander, Stavroula Mavrou, Claire Harrison-Breed

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Children and young people's (CYP) space to play can be constrained in families affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA), potentially impacting their development. Play also has the potential to strengthen CYP's capacity to resist controlling and abusive dynamics in the family. Interviews were conducted with 107 CYP aged 8–18, and were analysed using interpretive interactionism. Three themes relevant to children's experiences of play were identified: Play and Coercive Control; Play Re‐makes the World and Play and Relationality. This article highlights the potential for play to enable children to retain a sense of relational connectedness and agency, despite violence and control; we argue for more opportunities for children to play away from the gaze of adults and advocate for more dedicated services for families who experience DVA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)126-141
Number of pages16
JournalChildren & Society
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2018


  • Agency
  • Children
  • Coercive control
  • Domestic violence
  • Play


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