“Outside of the group I reflected on my life and my past relationships. I’m learning not to be so trusting of people as I can’t let my child see her mother get abused.”
DiVa is a continuing project with young mothers in Lambeth affected by domestic abuse. Mothers support each other at a weekly facilitated peer support group, and are offered one to one support linking with local agencies.
The outcomes we look for are:
- improved mental and health wellbeing; around depression, anxiety, self-harm, personal care, general health and fitness, substance misuse as self-medication
- increased confidence and independence
- improved skills and knowledge; to develop a full understanding of what domestic abuse is and skills to keep herself and her child safe from domestic abuse in the short and long term
- decrease in risky behaviours; involvement with violent (ex)partners and associates, self-harm, substance misuse
At the end of 12 months, we expect all the women we engage with to show improvement in each area. The level of change depends on individual circumstances but will be evidenced.
We support progression by encouraging parents to join other groups, we encourage them to look to the future and aspire to new goals. This progression is protective for this group of women - rather than being isolated they are engaging with the wider world, forming friendships, taking control and improving their health and wellbeing which impacts positively on their children.
In the last six months:
5 mothers have taken up counselling
5 children have been deregistered from Child Protection plans
2 mothers have obtained non-molestation orders
13 mothers have attended other groups
2 mothers joined training courses
3 mothers found employment
Having apparently moved away from an abusive relationship, a young mother may return to the group to talk through their new relationship and the signs of it becoming abusive. Or they may have returned to the previous partner and now realise this was the wrong decision. Group members challenge each other but offer unconditional support.
Mothers also return to share their achievements; a child returned to their care without any form of order, a qualification, a stable home. We see DiVa as an essential project because of
1) its importance in child protection,
2) its potential to achieve earlier intervention in safeguarding the child, and
3) the potential to secure permanent behavioural change in young mothers who will go on to subsequent relationships and children.
There's more about the DiVa group and are work on domestic abuse here.