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Introduction

The review of the relevant literature on the topic showed that domestic violence has a negative impact on children’s both, mental and physical health. The consequences of the cruel treatment of children in the family cause severe psychological damage and have a negative impact on the child’s personality. The observation of psychological studies in the field of domestic violence helped to determine it as a dynamic process where the forms of abuse (physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, and economic) and its participants are intertwined. The peculiarity of its functioning is that usually violent actions are repeated in time incidents (patterns), which unfold as phases and cycles. Ultimately, all of its participants become victims of violence, to a greater or lesser extent: both the original "offender," the original "victim," and "witnesses" of violence scenes (usually children). Therefore, the social danger of domestic violence is that it violates the rights and freedoms of the individual and destroys his or her social structure; being for a long time latent, hidden from the attention of society, it can grow uncontrollably and adversely affects children`s development. Thornton (2014) attempted to address the issue of emotional impact that domestic violence has on young children, while Howell et al. (2016) attempted to examine the impact that intimate partner violence exposure have on children.

The majority of the studies applied qualitative methods to identify the negative effects of violence in the family on the health of a child. However, little attention has been paid to the problem of communication and relationships between the members of such families. Several studies provided strong empirical evidence regarding the influence of children`s exposure to violence on their relationship with parents. Swanston, Bowyer, and Vetere’s study (2014 focused on the importance of mother-child relationship in shaping children’s domestic violence experience. The participants of the study were both, mothers and children. In a similar study, Katz (2015) focused on the children’s agency and their relationships with mothers. The scholar highlighted that mother-child relationships have proven to be essential when it comes to the children experiencing domestic violence. However, these studies omit the specific environment in the families with female domestic violence, and moreover, the peculiarities of the relationships between father and child.  In the researcher’s opinion, it is important to study this question using quantitative methods in order to provide statistical data. These considerations may flow into the following research question.

 

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Research question: 

Despite the fact that most studies have been focused on the “male” nature of domestic violence, what are the child-father relationships in the case of “female” domestic violence?

The research will address the research question in a quantitative way. The hypothesis of the study is going to consider the probable direction of child-father relationships in the family where the case of “female” domestic violence is present.

Hypothesis:

The relationships between a father and a child are characterized by the child’s trust and will to communicate.

Such a hypothetic conclusion is influenced by the presumption that a child been exposed to cruel treatment from the mother’s side will seek support from the father. However, this hypothesis needs to be proved regarding the evidence that most children exposed to domestic violence are characterized by reserved or even aggressive behavior (Callaghan et al. 2017).

Methodology proposal:

The research aims to evaluate the prevailing model of relationships between father and child in a family with “female” domestic violence. In order to achieve this purpose, it is of great importance to answer the research question set in the introduction and to prove or argue the hypothesis. The information needed to answer the research question will have to include the data collected from the participants in the form of interviews and multiple-choice questionnaires. The approach chosen for this purpose is quantitative research. Regarding the fact that the majority of the studies conducted in the field of domestic violence are of a qualitative nature and give a deeper understanding of the problem and interconnections between the effects and consequences, it is scientifically relevant to present a quantitative approach and provide statistical data considering the number (percentage) of families in which children tend to seek support from their fathers when they suffer violent attitude from their mothers. 

Prior to the data collecting process, it will be needed to find the families affected by female domestic violence. This kind of information will be found through agencies or practitioners who work with such families (these may be school family liaison workers or counseling services) (Callaghan et al. 2017).  Once the intended families will be found, the researcher will apply the following methods to collect data. First, interviews with children will be conducted on the basis of the previously designed semi-structured interview. Next, the multiple-choice questionnaires will be applied in order to retrieve the information about the sensitive matter of domestic violence in an atmosphere that does not require the participation of a researcher. These considerations are relevant due to the ethics of the researched topic. According to Morris et al. (2012), the researcher who conducts a study involving children exposed to domestic violence has to apply the research tools safely for the children’s emotional and psychological spheres which might be sensible regarding the specific nature of the topic of the research. The interview questions, as well as the multiple-choice questionnaires, will exclude explicit information addressing forms of violence, feelings which children experienced or any other questions referring to the character of the cruel attitude. However, these questions will concentrate on safer and softer formulations in order to retrieve the information needed. Some of the questions will need children’s reflection on other families' experiences. Due to the same considerations, all of the procedures involving the research participants will be conducted individually.

Within this framework, it is important to state the context of the research process. According to the fact that children are subjected to family violence at their homes, the research approach excludes home a possible location for collecting data. The place where the interviews and questionnaires might be conducted can be school due to the fact that children attend schools without parents and may behave there in a different way than at home at parents’ presence. Due to the quantitative approach to the study, the sample has to embrace a sufficient amount of participants in order to present reliable quantitative statistical data among school-children of a specific age range. The sample population for the research will include 60 participants (30 families with both, father and a child interviewed). Taking into account the sensitive and private nature of the problem of domestic violence, the researcher is aware of the possible cases of families to refuse to present data or participate in the research in any other form. However, the size of the sample is considered to be appropriate to evaluate the statistical data. The relatively large scope of work will need a relevant period of time. The data collecting process will consist of three independent parts which will include interviews with children, questionnaires for children, and interviews with fathers. Regarding the individual approach to the interviews, each of the participants will be interviewed separately. The intended duration of one interview is 30 minutes which makes 30 hours for interviews. Since the multiple-choice questionnaires will be applied only to children and will contain about 15 questions, 7-8 hours will be needed. The minimum duration of the data collecting process will result in 38-40 hours of work.

The age of the participants (regardless of the others of the children) will range from 12 to 16 years. Such an age range is conditioned by the aim of the research to collect objective accurate data. Domestic violence may be differently perceived and have ambiguous meaning for children at different stages of development. Children at an early stage of socialization may not assume that they have been subjected to domestic violence. In fact, they begin to realize the meaning of what happened to them only when they grow older and understand the social prohibitions and sanctions associated with this behavior. The children aged from 12 to 16 gain an appropriate stage of socialization and may present their reviews of the information related to domestic violence they had been exposed to, as well as reflect on their communication and relationships with their fathers. Regarding the school-age of children, the research tools and methods are to be adapted to the specifics of the age range. interviews and questionnaires presented for their reflection will include items of the game character to relax the participants and make the process of data collection less stressful. 

The ethical issues of the research are worth mentioning separately. The problem of domestic violence presents the latent issue, hidden from society, which people (victims, witnesses of the violent attitude, or offenders), avoid discussing. In the case of Childers, it has been proven that domestic violence not only affects their physical and mental health but also exposes them to less communicative behavior (Thornton 2014). However, with age and life maturity people tend to remain “silent and passive” towards their experience of violence in the family (Callaghan et al. 2017). That is why it is very important to bear in mind the peculiarities of a psychological and emotional state of such individuals especially in the course of the scientific investigation of the topic. Protection and safety of children must be a priority for a researcher conducting a data collection. Therefore, it is important to establish a partnership-like connection with a child creating a child-centered environment during the interview (Morris et al. 2012, p. 127). Morris et al. (2012) also suggest comforting details in the place where the interviews are conducted. The scholars also consider it to be more appropriate from the ethical point of view if a child could participate in the selection of place and time comfortable for them to be interviewed at. These considerations will also be taken into account in the process of preparation of the researcher for data collection. The participants will be interviewed anonymously. Their names, surnames, addresses or any other personal information insufficient for the study will not be included in the research materials due to the confidential considerations.

After a successful collection of information, the researcher will begin its analysis. Since the approach to proposed research will be of quantitative nature, there are two ways to analyze this kind of information: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics (Gnanadesikan 18). In the current case, it will be advisable to use the descriptive statistics method, since it will allow analyzing and assessing the situation from several sides at once. Firstly, descriptive statistics will help the researcher to determine the general trend observed as a result of the research. Secondly, it will be helpful in defining the degree of spreading a particular trend within the sample population. According to Gnanadesikan (41), the researcher will need to use mean (or average), mode, and standard deviation from the tools of descriptive statistics during the analysis of the received data. When analyzing the answers of children to 15 survey questions, the researcher will construct a schedule based on the mode tool, in order to determine the acutest issue and the degree of reaction of the children to it. Also, this tool will be useful in analyzing the data obtained from the interviews of both, children and their parents. The researcher will make a diagram of the nature of the relationship between children and their fathers. In order to determine the degree of spreading of positive and negative relationships within the sample population, a standard deviation will also become a useful tool. When analyzing the data of interviews with fathers and children, it is also advisable to use the mean method. As a result, one could determine the average value of the cases, when the relations between children and their fathers are of a positive nature and when they are of a negative one. In the case of an analysis according to the plan, the researcher at the end of the study will be able to formulate a clear answer regarding the nature of the relationship between fathers and children in families, where there is a phenomenon of female cruelty. Further, the data obtained can also become a base for research about the reasons for the diversification character of the relationship between children and parents.

One should note both, the data collection process and the process of analyzing the information received require much time. In fact, the process of analyzing the data obtained consists of computational processes: the definition of mean, standard deviation, and the construction of graphs based on mode. In the case of 100% attendance of respondents, the researcher will have to process about 450 children’s answers to questions from the surveys, as well as information received during interviews with 60 respondents within half an hour each one. The researcher will need 4-5 hours for calculations, 3-4 hours for plotting, and 1-2 hours for analyzing the numbers received. The total time expenditure will be about 9 hours, with a permissible variation of 10%.

 

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The relevance of the proposed study

The research proposal will be useful in filling the gap in the study of the relationship between children and their fathers in light of the existing phenomenon of female “domestic” violence. The subject of the proposed research is rather narrow, most of the existing studies on domestic violence aimed at studying the phenomenon of male cruelty to children and, in connection with this, the object of such studies is scathing relations between children and their mothers. The focus of the proposed research will be built around the relationship between fathers and their children in the case when a father is not an abuser but a consoler. Consequently, the research proposal on this topic is new and it will make a useful contribution to the development of the theme of relations between fathers and children. The fact that, in the light of the acuteness of the topic of gender equality in society, the changes in the roles performed by both parents (a mother and a father) are of particular interest, adds significance to this study. Each study has limitations, howsoever carefully planned and organized it would be. Among the limitations of the proposed research, it is worth noting the narrowness of the sample population. Firstly, it is proposed to select only 30 families for the study; this number of respondents is sufficient to draw conclusions about the situation within each of the analyzing families and the general trend observed within the selected number of research objects. According to Howell et al., the narrowness of the population is one of the most widespread and difficult to overcome obstacles to obtain reliable data (49). That is, to apply the obtained data as a result of the proposed study to another group of objects will be an unjustified solution. It is impossible to conclude the nature of relations between fathers and children in families where there is a phenomenon of female child abuse, either in the world, a particular country, or a region. Secondly, it is proposed to choose candidates for the role of the research objects on the basis of “free-for-all” information, without considering such parameters as ethnicity, religious faith, and the social status of the families. All these parameters are important and may have a different impact on the nature of the relationship between family members, including the possibility of the existence of specific features of the relationship between fathers and children. This fact will certainly affect the nature of the conclusions that will be drawn in the course of the proposed study.

Speaking of the target audience of the proposed study, it is worth noting the three interested categories: parents, children, and academic researchers. Each of these categories will discover useful findings from the proposed study. So, it will be useful for children to learn that the problem they are facing is not an individual and that there are methods of dealing with it. Also, it will be interesting for them to know that their fathers have all the necessary qualities, a desire to help them, and a wish to find a common language. Fathers, in turn, will be able to pick up the necessary tactics of communicating with their children in order to build trust, learn about the models of the behavior of other fathers and children, and assess whether those tactics are effective or useless. As for the third target audience, academic researchers, this work will be of particular interest for them, as it will be a suitable base for further research in the field of relations between fathers and children in conditions of domestic violence. 

Even after the research conducted, the ethical question remains important for the researcher. The dilemma of ethical spreading of research in schools and places where students study and rest comes to the fore. Considering the fact that people who will benefit from the proposed study are everywhere, including locations of the research participants, the researcher should make sure of several things before spreading the study (Alderson). He must ensure the information published by him in his research will not cause harm to the participants and will not violate their rights.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is worth saying the proposed study, despite its advantages and disadvantages, is an important step in examining the issue of communication between children and fathers on the grounds of domestic violence on the mother’s part. Of course, violence should not exist in any form in relation to children, and in order to fight it, it is, first of all, necessary to establish contact between the allies, a father and a child in a supposed case. The result of this study will be information on the nature of the relationship between fathers and their children. Preceding it, one can formulate the further research question: how does a father’s behavior, with respect to intervention or non-intervention in cases of violence on the part of a mother to a child, affect the trustworthiness of the relationship between a child and a father?