Bethany* was referred to Welcare through ESDAS (East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service), having witnessed domestic violence towards her mother perpetrated by Bethany’s father. At the time she came to us, Bethany was 10, suffering with low self-esteem and had been assessed as being at risk of self-harm.
Bethany’s grandmother told us about their experience with Welcare…
My daughter had been in an abusive relationship and had sought help from East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services. When she expressed concern about the affect the abuse had had on her children, Bethany in particular, ESDAS connected us with Welcare, who immediately suggested that Bethany should come along to their ‘MySpace’ Group. They said the group was designed for children who had been exposed to domestic abuse, and would encourage them to open up in a safe space. We figured we had nothing to lose, so I took Bethany along to the weekly sessions.
Bethany had been having recurrent nightmares about her father, coming with a knife to take her away. She was constantly anxious, everything she did depended on her father’s approval. We were so worried about her, she had become so timid and quiet, and the way Welcare staff took care of her was remarkable.
The group was made up of all girls, all close in age to our Bethany. Although she was wary and not overly talkative to start, she slowly opened up and became able to share her experiences. Through group activities she really came out of her shell, and towards the end was one of the strongest voices in the room.
I was especially proud to see how Bethany began to offer support and encouragement to other girls in the group – I think hearing other similar experiences from her peers stopped her feeling so closed off. She (Bethany) has gone from a timid mouse to an African lion with all the confidence Welcare has instilled in her.
For the last MySpace session, Bethany baked muffins to bring in and share with the group – something she would never have done before. They ran a session for the adults alongside the one for the kids, so Bethany’s mum and I both got to talk to some other amazing mums with similar experiences. I think we all benefited in different ways.
Since attending Welcare’s MySpace group, Bethany’s confidence has grown significantly. She is getting on better with her siblings – and all have now attended MySpace groups. The family no longer has contact with the abusive father. In a follow-up home visit, Bethany’s mum said that the group was “the best thing that had happened to [Bethany] – she doesn’t have so many nightmares anymore, and she now knows she doesn’t need to ask for [her] Dad’s approval.”
*names have been changed
Find out more about our MySpace programme.