Domestic abuse is often a hidden crime that is not reported to the police.
This is because domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour on the part of the abuser designed to control another. It is progressive. Domestic abuse usually gets worse over time. It becomes all-consuming and often it is only at the end of a repeated cycle of traumatic controlling behaviour, the Police get to hear of it.
Domestic abuse does not know class or race - it is more than just physical. It is also through coercion and psychological. Often the collateral damage is the children.
As schools we recognise that getting help early to our children and families can stop things from getting worse and becoming harder to manage. Many schools already are providing support for families along with Early Help Hub. The Early Help Hub works with families or young people who would like some extra support to deal with a difficult situation.
Recent statistics, according to the Office for National Statistics report : Domestic abuse during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, England and Wales, revealed Police recorded crime data showing an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
One teacher in a school in the South East disclosed to me:
There is so much trauma. Much of it is from domestic abuse. We are seeing it manifest itself through many of our kids.
As an educator we can feel so frustrated as we feel we are inadequately trained to deal with the complex behaviour which results from these traumatic experiences. Designated Mental Health Leads in schools will all recognise the growing need for staff to be trained as trauma informed practitioners. Which is why our school jumped at the chance when we got a place on the award-winning Healing Together program
The ‘Healing Together’ programme was born out of a request from mothers who had started their journey of recovery from domestic abuse and violence. They expressed that they wanted similar help and support for their children but could not find anything suitable. Their children were labelled as ‘naughty’, they were at risk of exclusion from school and struggling to access any help.
Developed by Dr Asha Patel (Clinical Psychologist) & Jane Evans (Trauma Expert) the trauma informed programme incorporates neuroscience, attachment models and relational approaches to support children to understand how their brains and body work together.
Who is it for?
The course is aimed at anyone working with children from the social worker to domestic abuse support worker to a school setting.
Ultimately, The Healing Together programme is targeted for children aged 6 to 16 years.
What is the course?
Our representative has been attending 3 days of training of 6 hours each. She has been so impressed with Jane Evans’ experience and wealth of information and how everyone’s contribution is greatly valued.
The Session Outline is as follows
- Keeping safe;
- Grounding and breathing.
- Our brain and our body working together.
- Physical Sensations:
- Our bodies warning us;
- Sensory safety.
- Finding your feelings;
- Coping strategies.
- Support plan;
- Dear Buddy letters.
How could it impact our school?
Once our representative completes the course, we can offer 1-2-1 support for 6 sessions or with another support staff member, offer Group Work for 6 sessions. Plus, our school will have access to all their resources, video clips to show; ice breakers; worksheets to help the facilitator.
Of course, all this investment in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our young people will also help us as we build the evidence in gaining further accreditation in the Mental health award program, moving from Committed to Achieving.
But ultimately it is these words on the Innovating Minds website which really sum up why every school up and down the country should have an opportunity to do the course and become trauma informed.
We are investing in you so children can access help by people they trust, and in a space they feel safe.
You can find out more about the Facilitators program here