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Recovering Together – domestic abuse trauma healing for families

  • September 5, 2023

Recovering Together is our pioneering domestic abuse trauma healing programme for families.

When a family experiences domestic abuse, it is traumatic, for everyone.

Children do not witness abuse; they experience it too. Abuse can take many forms – coercion, control, violence, sexual, economic, honour-based – and can be engrained in family life for years.

The impact of domestic abuse on families

The emotional, psychological and physical trauma can be a lot to handle for both adults and children. Even after they are no longer subjected to the abuse, dealing with the fear, uncertainty, shock and disharmony can last a long time.

Parenting through abuse is a lonely and frightening experience that often leaves the non-abusing parent with feelings of self-blame and poor self-worth. This is despite having done all they can to keep themselves and their children safe.

Sometimes, family conflict can arise where a child feels let down by their non-abusive parent, even though abuse is never the victim’s fault. They can struggle to comprehend their experience and emotions, which can manifest in adverse behaviour such as anger, aggression, violence, anxiety, withdrawal and detachment.

A support programme for parents and children

In 2020 we created our domestic abuse trauma healing Recovering Together programme. The programme provides a safe, non-judgemental space for primary school-aged children and their non-abusive parent to process their experiences collectively in a safe, holistic way post-separation and after the point of crisis has passed.

A mother sitting on the floor with her soon playing wiith a toy and looking concerned.

Our experience tells us that by addressing the trauma early, from 5 to 11 years, children who have been affected by domestic abuse can move into adolescence with more resilience, emotional understanding, and the tools to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships. Without early intervention, externalised and internalised trauma-related responses such as anger and anxiety become less obviously related to the abuse the more time has elapsed and can become embedded behaviours that carry on into adulthood.

The Recovering Together programme gives parents the tools to support themselves and their children through their recovery so that they can live the happy, safe lives they deserve. We focus on putting this blame back where it belongs – with the perpetrator, helping the non-abusive parent to regain self-esteem and parenting confidence. Children are supported to explore their feelings, build confidence and connect with their non-abusive parent.

A life-changing programme

Our programme works to:

  • Improve communication patterns and interpersonal dynamics within the family.
  • Support behaviour-change in children.
  • Create a secure base for parenting adolescents.
  • Enable parents and their children to makes sense of their experiences.
  • Build compassionate parenting in response to the behaviours consequent to abuse.
  • Enable children to reduce anxiety and anger.
  • Reduce the risk of acting out trauma abusively in adolescence.
  • Reduce parental stress.
A support worker talking to a mother and daughter around a table.

We are thrilled to have recently been awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund for three years for this hugely important and impactful programme we run in Thanet and Dover.

The programme has been instrumental in helping 45 families in the last year alone and has directly supported 58 individuals either through 1-2-1 mentoring or group workshops. The positive change for participants is evident:

  • 80% of parents felt the service had a positive effect on their child’s emotional well-being.
  • 90% of parents said they felt more confident in their parenting skills.
  • 84% of parents said their parent-child relationship had improved.
  • 76% of parents said the service had a positive effect on their child’s progress at school.

Parents have told us of the life-changing impact that the recovery programme has had on their family life:

I think the course is amazing. I can’t even explain how much it has helped me – with friendships, family, kids. I have learnt that people aren’t always what they seem. I have learnt it is ok to say no. It has helped communication with my own parents, and I feel so lucky to have been in the group. I feel like the group has been our saviour and I’m so thankful


“It’s done my daughter the world of good, it’s like she’s a different child who is so much more confident. She comments that she’s doing things now that she couldn’t do before because Dad was there. The school have also noticed a change in her confidence, and she’s been able to read out loud in class which she could never do before

My son will now tell me that someone’s words or actions have upset him or that he is not comfortable with a situation. Which will lead to discussions about why he feels a certain way and what can be done to make him feel better. This has helped reduce meltdowns and angry outbursts

Young mother sat on a sofa with her young son who is cuddling a teddy, explaining something and smiling.

Supporting families is at the heart of our work at Oasis. We are committed to early intervention and prevention. By providing education, resources, and the right support at an early stage, for parents and children collectively, we can help them to heal, and minimise the risk of further abuse and adverse life experiences.

If you need support, we are here for you.

Get support

Call our helpline on 0800 917 9948 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 09:30–11:30am, 12:30–2:30pm

Thursday and Friday 09:30–11:30am, except bank holidays) or email helpline@oasisdaservice.org (if it’s safe to do so)

If you or your family are in immediate danger please call the police on 999 (if you can’t speak, cough or tap the handset then press 55 on your phone – the police will know it’s an emergency)

In a non-emergency situation, you can call Kent Police on 101.

If you’d like to support our work with families, we are always grateful for any donation you can give, big or small.

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