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Help seeking and shame

a person with their hands wrapped around their legs, sitting on the floor.

As we talked about before, mothers are the primary target of violence within the family. This is true whether or not there is a history of domestic violence / intimate partner violence in the family. Therefore, most of the course will focus on mothers specifically. In later chapters the activities we do can be applied to fathers as well; however, it is important to understand the impacts unique to mothers. The most common and damaging impact on mothers is shame.

Mothers report the following impacts when reaching out for support:

  • Mothers largely report not being believed
  • They report feeling that they have failed as a mother
  • They fear that the violence will lead to a report to Child Safety and they will lose their children
Think about conversations you may have had with peers or clients. Are you indirectly reinforcing these aspects of shame and fear?
The shame mothers feel leads to the violence becoming a family secret. It is not uncommon to ask mothers “Who else knows what is going on at home?” and have mothers reply “no one.” No one knows this family secret, which perpetuates feelings of isolation and increases risk.
Mothers will often voice that they have no one to help them and their lives have become defined by the violence. In these cases, the family is built on a rupture with no repair. Mothers can become hopeless and see you as the last chance for the family.
Imagine the crushing weight of her being turned away from your service because her case does not fit a set definition of adolescent violence.

Example: Mothers Day Group

David and his team ran a group therapy program for mothers and sons where there was a history of domestic violence and adolescent violence. Read the story below:
My co-facilitator and I ran a special mothers’ only session to celebrate Mother’s Day. We bought all six mothers a flowering plant and gave them special cakes to celebrate. In talking about Mother’s Day, four of the mums started to cry. Each of these mothers had 15 – 17-year-old sons and explained that this group was their first Mother’s Day. Think of the level of shame and hopelessness these mothers carried with them when their first Mother’s Day celebration came after 15 years within their therapy group. This is the level of attachment breakdown and hurt we are dealing with when working with these families.
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Understanding and Tackling Adolescent to Parent Violence

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