Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence: How to Prevent the Risk of Secondary Victimization

Andrea Fleckinger

Andrea Fleckinger is a social worker and worked over ten years in a women’s shelter supporting women and children who survived gender-based violence. Currently she is a PhD student of General Pedagogy, Social Pedagogy, General Didactics and Disciplinary Didactics at the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano (Italy). Andrea’s actual research project focuses on a critical analysis of the experiences single mothers made with child protection social workers. Her main research interests are: social work practices regarding women and mothers, feminist research in social work, gender-based violence and sustainable social development.


OBJECTIVES: The paper focusses on gender-based violence and child protection social work practices. Despite its high prevalence, gender-based-violence is often treated as marginal in child protection social services. The purpose of this article is to discuss possible forward-looking methods and techniques for child protection social work with survivors of gender-based violence. THEORETICAL BASE: The theoretical base is defined by adopting a feminist perspective,incorporating key aspects of the critical theory of patriarchy and the modern matriarchal studies. METHODS: The article provides a theoretical discussion based on the results of a qualitative research, which analysed the dynamics of secondary victimization in the relationship between mothers who survived gender-based violence and child protection social worker interlinked with the results from international research. OUTCOMES: The paper aims to focus attention on a complex issue. It uncovers some blind spots and highlights how motherhood and victimhood can be interpreted as risk factors, which increase victim-blaming attitudes. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: The article attempts to contribute to the current debate on this very important and widespread social issue, combining practical experience with broader theoretical considerations. Further, it opens the discussion on strategies for child protection social work practices, which might help to prevent dynamics of secondary victimization.


gender-based violence, secondary victimization, child protection social work, social work practice, survivors, gender-based violence



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