The Experience of “Nothingness” Among Children Exposed to Interparental Violence

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The aim of this study was to examine the experience of children exposed to their father’s violence against their mother in the context of daily family life. More specifically, it focused on children’s perceptions of themselves, their father, mother, and siblings, and the interactions among them in their routine daily lives as reflected through narratives and drawings. The sample included 27 children, 13 boys and 14 girls, aged 7 to 12. They came from families in which intimate partner violence was reported to centers for the treatment and prevention of violence across Israel. The children were interviewed using a semistructured interview format. In addition, they were asked to make a drawing to describe their lives at home. Findings indicate that an experience of nothingness prevailed in children’s descriptions of their daily lives. This experience is defined by negative emotions, which include existence in a vacuum, meaninglessness, helplessness, confusion, and loss of control. Such feelings are crystallized in light of comparisons made by the children between normative expectations and the conditions in which they live. The implications of the findings for theory development and practice are discussed in light of the complexities of the exposure to violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-494
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Intimate partner violence
  • children
  • experience
  • family interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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