After experiencing a difficult family situation in the form of domestic abuse, Sam and his mum were referred to Kineara’s Motivate to Educate (M2E) programme to receive specialised holistic support. The aims of the intervention were to provide one-to-one, emotional and practical support, help them to move forward from a traumatic past by developing techniques to strengthen their relationship, and learn how to deal with various challenges including PTSD.  

 

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“Having this space meant that she could offload and speak in detail about her past abusive relationships, and the abuse that she witnessed as a child. She was now hoping to break the abusive cycle and teach her children a different way of behaving.”

Living temporarily in a refuge after fleeing domestic abuse, mum had always engaged well with Sam’s school and teachers, and together they decided the family could benefit from extra support. Having identified several issues including Sam’s behaviour and aggression towards his peers and family members, and a breakdown in relationship with mum, Gail, our M2E practitioner, began to work closely with Sam, mum and the whole family.

Exploring different techniques to strengthen Sam’s relationship with Mum was a key part of the intervention. “Mum was extremely resilient and was trying to deal with Sam’s behaviour as best she could,” explains Gail.

“Having this space meant that she could offload and speak in detail about the abuse in her past abusive relationships, and that she witnessed as a child. She was now hoping to break the abusive cycle and teach her children a different way of behaving.”

Gail supported Mum with her own emotional wellbeing and together they explored different ways that, “Mum could take a break from being Mum.” With a social care funding some childcare every week, Mum started spending a few hours a week to herself and a few hours to take Sam swimming without his two siblings, which really helped with relationship building. Gail also ordered some books for Mum to help with parenting children that have experienced trauma and a book to help with her own trauma.

Mum was very keen to help Sam manage his emotions and her own emotions like staying calm during Sam’s outbursts. Rather than reacting angrily by hitting him back, Gail showed Mum different techniques in dealing with Sam’s behaviour. “These were carried out with Sam on a 1:1 basis, with Mum to recap and then with the whole family so that it could be incorporated into the family unit,” explains Gail.

“The techniques included a punch bag so that Sam could release his anger onto the bag and not his family members, doing some artwork if Mum saw Sam becoming irritable, deep breathing with a partner so they support each other, Lion breath for releasing anger, and dancing to happy music to distract negative behaviour.”

Gail found that Sam was feeling anger towards Mum because of the situation with his stepfather. One method to help rebuild the relationship was introducing a new bedtime routine for Sam. This involved Sam’s two younger siblings being put to bed an hour earlier than Sam, giving Mum and Sam some special time together.

“The routine would include having a shower with some lavender oil, Mum giving Sam a short massage, then Mum and Sam would either watch a film or play dominoes or do a crossword together,” explains Gail. “Sam really responded well to this special time, but if Mum won a game or if Sam didn’t want to stop playing, sometimes he would get angry.” This meant that Gail would have to review progress and introduce different ideas.

Gail’s 1:1 and peer sessions with Sam gave him an opportunity to express how we was feeling and use creative methods to develop emotional awareness. From talking about how he felt about his stepfather, his mum and his brothers, Sam and Gail started going through different techniques to help Sam manage his rage.

“Sam is very emotionally intelligent and we were able to talk about how some adults do bad things and why this happens to some adults. We used body scans and releasing worries techniques to help take away some of the pain,” explains Gail. “We practised different relaxation techniques and words that he could use when he became angry. We also used visual timetables and charts to support the new routines.”

Sam was also part of the peer group that Gail led in school, looking at emotions and getting other students to talk about and share how things affect them emotionally. Here, Gail provided tools for the pupils to help them relax and feel less anxious as a group, as well as supporting the group to talk about each other’s positive attributes, to listen to each other and problem solve together. 

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The whole family have been fully engaged in the programme and have taken on board all of the advice and support. Both Sam and Mum have more of an understanding about their own emotional wellbeing and I believe that one day they will be able to put this all behind them and have a happy life.

“Mum was able to encourage Sam to use different techniques himself to prevent his rage turning into an aggressive outburst. She was able to recognise that her reactions also had a part to play in the outcome of his outbursts.” 

Crucial to the success of the intervention was practical support and advocacy work. “We worked productively with children’s social care and the school, liaising with all the services involved in the case and actioning necessary agenda items from each social care meeting,” says Gail.

Gail also supported Mum in speaking to various professionals and applying for PIP, DLA and Housing. Gail also advocated the need for CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) involvement, which led to the diagnosis that Sam has PTSD, and would benefit from trauma therapy.

Given the family had a limited time to stay in the refuge and were moving to temporary accommodation, Gail supported the whole family in the lead up to moving home and school by celebrating the time they had in school with some of their friends, as well supporting them during the transition period. Gail explains that extra practical support included “providing clothing and toys for the family and taking the family for a day out in London to see the Christmas lights and commend their hard work with us.”

Following the support, Mum and Sam’s relationship greatly improved and there were less outbursts from Sam. This meant that trips to A & E and police involvement reduced over the intervention periodMum continued to implement the different techniques that Gail provided to help Sam with his aggression and change the family routine, give the children consistency, and give her some time for herself.

“Mum was able to encourage Sam to use different techniques himself to prevent his rage turning into an aggressive outburst. She was able to recognise that her reactions also had a part to play in the outcome of his outbursts,” says Gail.

Gail explains how Sam was now able to talk about his past and what made him angry, showing an improvement in communication skills and managing emotions. The support helped Sam to recognise that he has people around him that cared about his wellbeing and his future.

“Sam began to realise and speak about how his mum is someone he can always rely on and talk too when he needed supported or if something was worrying him,” says Gail. The school was also a great support in using some of these techniques from the M2E sessions to calm Sam down if he would begin to feel sad or angry.

Another outcome was that Mum recognised that she needed her own therapy from the trauma she had received, which led to  Mum speaking with us each week about her emotions and worries, and accepting her own 1:1 talking therapy with a counsellor from a church. “It was important to encourage Mum when she was exhausted and feeling low, reminding her how far she has come, and what the future looks like,” says Gail.

“I think that Mum has done an amazing job so far, and I feel that if the family continue to communicate, stick to the routines and boundaries and complete their trauma therapy once they have been referred in Kent then they will have really turned their lives around from the domestic abuse they received.”

Reflecting on the support, Gail believes that, “the whole family have been fully engaged in the programme and have taken on board all of the advice and support. Both Sam and Mum have more of an understanding about their own emotional wellbeing and I believe that one day they will be able to put this all behind them and have a happy life.”

She adds, “I also think that once the family have been placed in an appropriate accommodation and the children are back in school, things will be easier to manage. My recommendation is that Mum continues to keep doing what she is doing, her will power and strength to create a better life for her and her children is amazing.”

The family have been allocated a key worker in their area’s Social Care Early Help hub who is now continuing to support them.

Note: Names have been changed to protect client’s identity.

Find out more about our Motivate to Educate programme.