Behind Closed Doors Supports Children and Families
During our last focus group service users discussed how they thought Behind Closed Doors had improved their relationships with their family members and the lives of their children.
Natalie said that her partner had insisted she keep everything in the house clean. All the children’s toys had to be put away and her daughter had to be cleaned and changed after each meal. As a result, the child became hysterical when she was dirty. Natalie’s worker encouraged her not clean compulsively. Her daughter has begun to relax and at the weekend they went to the park, got covered in mud and had a brilliant time.
Our Prevention and Recovery Service carries out dedicated family sessions where workers directly address children’s distress, anxiety, isolation, anger and inappropriate feeling of responsibility for the parent and for the events they have experienced. They encourage them to openly discuss their experiences; help them understand about healthy and unhealthy relationships and reassure them that they can have control over their own lives and behaviours.
Scarlet said her son had taken a lot of flak which had been aimed at her. During the family session this was explained to him and this helped him to realise that he did not need to please everyone and that he could say no. He was also worried that he would become a perpetrator and the worker explained that he had a choice over how he behaves.
Wider family relationships have often broken down completely. The person responsible for the abuse often deliberately isolates their victim from their family or even involves the family, unknowingly, in the abuse. In family sessions, workers help parents, siblings and other family members understand domestic violence and abuse and put their and the service users’ experiences and behaviour in context. This reassures service users that their family understands and believes their story and begins to rebuild relationships.
In a family session, Amber’s brother angrily expressed his resentment that she had not visited their mother during her illness. The worker explained about control and abuse and how this had prevented Amber from attending. Her brother realised that this was not her fault and now Amber and her brother are really close. Her brother has opened up about his feelings and is trying to understand the abuse in his own relationship.