Research into maternal protectiveness in domestic violence has focused either on women's experiences of mothering or children's experiences of growing up in domestic violence. This paper reports on a qualitative research study with both mothers and individuals who grew up in domestic violence that sought to explore perspectives on, and experiences of, maternal protectiveness in the two groups. The study used a feminist social constructionist theoretical perspective and a relational empowerment methodology, and involved interviews with nine mothers and 16 individuals who grew up in domestic violence. Thematic analysis revealed the different ways that mothers and children approached the question of so-called 'failure to protect'. Analysis revealed that themes of self-blame by the mothers and mother-blame by those who grew up in domestic violence were common, with three main thematic categories capturing the ways in which blame was constructed: (1) centring feminine traits; (2) self-blame and guilt; and (3) the double bind of protection. The paper explores the gendered discourses about mothering and femininity that frame practices of self-blame and mother-blame, elaborating the double bind of protection that women face. The paper also explores the implications for practitioners who work with domestic violence in balancing the need to strengthen connections between mothers and children and, at the same time, safeguard children.