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In this article, the author demonstrates that, during their recent child contact campaign, UK women's groups concentrated on violence-based feminist critiques of child contact to the exclusion of autonomy-based critiques. While the author recognises that this focus had a clear rationale and led to concrete successes, she argues that it damaged mothers' interests by creating two mutually exclusive types of mothers involved in child contact disputes, the domestic violence victim and the unreasonable mother. The author suggests two explanations for women's groups' exclusive concentration on domestic violence: first, a search for consensus; and, secondly, a feminist definition of domestic violence. However, the author concludes that there is a tension between the women's groups' demand for the law to treat domestic violence as more determinative in contact disputes and their demand for the law to adopt a feminist interpretation of domestic violence: women's groups are using safety as a stand-in for autonomy, to the detriment of all mothers.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure