Domestic Violence and Abuse in the Home

A recent study in 2017 revealed that domestic violence and abuse is on the increase. In the last year, an estimated (reported) 1.9 million adults between 16 and 59 years old were exposed to violence in the home. 1.2 million of those were women, 713,000 were men. The NSPCC reports that 1 in 5 children are exposed to abuse of all kinds in the UK today…..

On a morning that I wake up to large flakes of snow falling, I am excited to think of my grandchildren enthusiastically pulling their wellies on; being told to wrap up warm as they rush to get out of the house with little more than a jumper on!

I am bought back to earth as the presenter on the radio in the background is giving information out about an 8 year old girl who was stabbed last night in her family home. The man being held responsible for the incident is himself, in hospital this morning also with a stab wound. He is in recovery. Sadly, the little girl, having fought for her brave little life over night, is dead.

Too early for more details of this tragedy to come out. What ever caused this tragic event; there can never be a reason to take a life, especially a child’s life. There can never be a reason.

Any behaviour that a child may be demonstrating, however negative, can only be learnt, and an adult somewhere in that child’s life will bear responsibility, that is for sure.

Domestic violence and abuse in the home is on the increase. It is everywhere, in every community; rich or poor. It’s happening in our society. No matter how much we try to hide it, or put our head in the sand, no government is committed to take long-term actions that would bring about change for so many innocent young lives.

The psychological outcomes for our young people are huge. Post traumatic stress (PTSD) and more behavioural problems amongst the young are on the increase.

At the Seeds of Change, we see and hear of incidents around domestic violence and abuse daily. We create a landscape where young people as young as 5 years (and up to 18) can have a space in which to come, to share their problems and get help and support to enable them to go on and function as an adult.

The young people who are able to access our provision, tell their life stories in often frightening and shocking ways. The evidence of physical harm that they have either done to themselves, to relieve the pain of what they are having to endure, or of the injuries that those primary care givers have inflicted on them.

In an increasing culture where our children are growing up with little attention to their emotional and physical needs, the Seeds of Change works with schools and local authorities to try to support these young people. To help them understand that they do have choices; and have the right to feel safe in their home environments and schooling.

When the young people come to us, they are often carrying the burdens of a very unstable home life. Their parents or care givers are often in dire need of support and guidance in child care themselves, and they too, will have experienced violence and abuse at some time in their life.

Poor inadequate housing, poverty, complex multi relationships, affects of drug and addictions, histories of abuse in the families, low paid, unskilled jobs and unemployment are at the root of the abuse that goes on.

We believe and practice in a consistent way, “positive parenting” in the ways that we coach and work with the young people. Two coaches facilitate the small group programmes and learning is based around life skills and personal development. Containing and offering boundaries, structure and space in which the individual can begin to feel better and more confident in themselves and their abilities.

Most importantly, through this growth, the young people begin to see the possibilities and choices that they can make, in order to bring about positive, responsible outcomes in their own lives.

We cannot change their backgrounds; rarely are we able to get to work with the child’s care givers (through the current funding structures) but we can support them. Support them to a place where they have every chance of ultimately making some life choices for themselves and begin to break the patterns of two and three generation negative behaviours. 

The unique way in which we work with the young people, and the use of the equine facilitated learning approach, we can enable so much embedded learning. Using the horse as a metaphor for so many learning objectives, the young people can see for themselves the possibilities for change.

Through the relationship with their chosen horse, they can begin to understand how to form relationships, and through gleaning similarities in behaviours, start to learn about respect and regard for others. It brings empathetic emotions to the fore, and the young people are able to enjoy the warmth, comfort and feelings this brings about.

Once this relationship and bond has developed, the coaches work closely with the young people to encourage and support them to be able to transfer this leaning into their own human relationships. Learning that they do have the power to understand the difference between right and wrong, and that they are able to make the changes that they need to do, to move to a “safer” place in their own lives.

If we are ever able to offer ALL our children the right to live and function as a decent human being in and amongst our communities……. if they are to grow into giving, caring and responsible adults who will contribute to these environments….

Change must start to happen, not in the future…. NOW!

A little girl lies dead, in a town 50 miles away from you and I. An innocent life cut down in the most cruel way. Is that not enough for the powers that be, to stop and think? And take ACTION?

Actions that will bear fruit far longer than their political ambitions.