Louise and daughter Ada* were recommended to Welcare by a play therapist in Ada’s school. 5-year-old Ada’s father had been violent and emotionally abusive towards Louise, and antagonism between the two was affecting Ada. Louise was struggling to cope with Ada’s frustration, while working full time and dealing with an ongoing court case to prevent Ada’s father taking his daughter overseas to his home country, where girls Ada’s age are often subject to female genital mutilation. Louise tells us about her experience.
When we first came to Welcare in Bromley Ada still saw her father weekly. While I never denigrated him, I couldn’t control what he said about me, so Ada would often return angry and accusatory. At other times she would be violent in frustration, anger, hurt or confusion. My self esteem was at an all time low. I was exhausted from 3 years dealing with the divorce and access rights, as well as multiple orders to protect myself and Ada from her father. He wanted to take her to his country of origin, where many young girls have FGM performed upon them, I couldn’t risk this happening.
I didn’t know how to support Ada to reduce her tantrums and violence.
I was being careful to protect Ada from details of her father’s abuse due to her age. I asked Welcare to help with this, as well as improving my own self esteem and moving on from being a victim of domestic abuse. Welcare’s support officer initially met me at home after work. We worked through the ‘road to recovery’ programme which I cannot recommend enough – 1:1 support meant we could focus on personal and complex issues, and tailor the programme to my experience. The 12 week course took around 10 months to finish, but I was never rushed and on reflection, I needed that time to process my feelings and optimise the outcomes. I started to feel much more positive.
Ada began to realise for herself some of her father’s behaviours. She started to feel apprehensive about spending time with him, which eventually reached a head. She confessed to feeling controlled and scared, and although we went back to court to discuss access full contact was reinstated almost immediately. Ada’s sleep deteriorated, she became clingy, frightened and vulnerable. Catherine at Welcare offered Ada a 1:1 version of the MySpace programme. Ada loved her sessions and had a great, trusting relationship with Catherine. I don’t know all they talked about as, rightly, some things they kept between themselves. With Ada’s permission, we discussed some things – for instance techniques like affirmation cards and a poster of Ada with positive descriptive words used by her friends were incredibly powerful, and all helped me understand how I could help my daughter better.
Although Ada continues to struggle with her father, she has learnt how to make the most of their time together where possible – it is of course a continual work in progress. She has more self confidence, and knows just how much she is loved by friends and family. I myself feel more positive and empowered, and have let go of the anger and hurt I felt. I have more pride in myself. I needed to show Ada that I valued myself – her behaviour towards me only started to change as she saw me looking after myself better.
To to anyone considering reaching out to Welcare, I would say “do it”.
Everybody struggles from time to time; accepting help is a vital step to getting back on track. Domestic abuse affects people from all walks of life – many of my colleagues couldn’t understand how a confident professional could be suffering, especially without visible bruises or a black eye. Emotional abuse can be cancerous to those on the receiving end, but Welcare have given my daughter and I invaluable tools to move forward and thrive. We were able to trust them, listen to advice and learn from their experience. I couldn’t be more grateful. I thank God that Welcare have been around for 125 years helping families like mine, and I pray they will continue to be there for other families in the future.
Ada’s father has been banned by a judge from taking his daughter out of the country, Louise and Ada both feel they can move forwards positively after interventions from our Support Workers and our MySpace programme.
*names have been changed