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In Newcastle, I oversee a cluster of services, but one of them is called Breaking the Cycle. This is a service that was specifically designed by us several years ago, when we saw a gap in recovery services for children. We work with children between the ages of four and 16 who have experienced domestic abuse, and we offer them one-to-one counselling.
The way the piece of work is done is that we normally meet the non-abusing partner—normally the mum—and we do a session with her, and then we bring the child in. One of the big points of the model—this is why it is a specialist service—is that we name why the children are there. It is named. That is actually a really big issue for a parent who has spent a long time thinking that they are protecting the child. They realise that the child’s behaviour—the traumatic behaviour that they are displaying —is because of the domestic abuse that they have experienced. We need to spend time with the non-abusing partner, getting them to understand their story and what has happened to their child.
We then offer up to 10 sessions with the child, and they are child-led sessions with the counsellor, using a variety of tools that the counsellor is extremely skilled at using: sometimes they use play, sometimes they use games and words, and they do special box work with the young people. We then have a review session with the child and the non-abusing partner and parent. Some of that is very much around looking at their relationship, because children can be really angry. Suddenly they can be angry and confused, and the relationship between the parent and the child can be really broken, so we need to do some work to improve that parent-child relationship and have an understanding on both sides. That is the work that we do up in Newcastle at the moment.