As part of the White Ribbon Campaign Yorkshire Children’s Centre and EdShift presented ‘Speak Volumes – the importance of amplifying children’s voices in domestic abuse perpetrator programmes’ on Tuesday 6th December 2022 at Brian Jackson House. This is an extremely important topic as The Domestic Abuse Act was amended in 2022 to recognise that children in a domestic abuse household are victims in their own right.
EdShift was founded in April 2019 by Ellie Brook and delivers quality, drama-based violence prevention programmes and digital resources to children aged 7 – 16. Their SpotLight Programme was developed in response to the deaths of two children and 14 women, caused by domestic violence, in the first three weeks of lockdown and aims to give a voice to children so they aren’t silenced or ignored. It ensures children know what to do in an emergency, have a safe place to go and also teaches them key aspects within the law and how to recognise red flags in their own relationships.
EdShift works with schools and other professionals linked to the child to ensure they take a trauma informed approach to how they are acting and give them the support they need.
YCC’s Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme (DAPP) is a 17-week high risk programme using both group work and 1:1 sessions. It has been running for 10 years and became RESPECT accredited in 2015. The team assess an individual’s suitability for the course before they join the pre group sessions and then the 14-week rolling programme. During the course they are encouraged to learn skills to help them deal with issues such as anger, negative thoughts, and aggression in their daily lives. Men who have completed the course have come back to discuss how it has changed their mindset and talk about their experiences which is a great way for those on the course to engage and see positive outcomes. YCC also has a Domestic Abuse Worker who is in contact with the victims and ensures they are supported and will notify the DAPP facilitators if they are experiencing any issues outside of the course.
EdShift and YCC started to work together in July 2022 and have completed a successful pilot where individuals on the DAPP course were shown the SpotLight exhibition. The participants were encouraged to understand the impact that domestic violence has on children. A lot of the men admitted to being unaware of the effect domestic abuse was having on their children, especially when they weren’t in the same room when the abuse was taking place.
One of the tasks that had a huge impact on the men was the “Power Tower”, the men were asked to fill in a blank brick and write what they would say to their children if they could. They took their brick home and are encouraged to look at it as motivation to continue to change for their children. One of the participants on the course said “The most impactful exercise was when you asked us to write on the power brick – it was like a light bulb moment. It made me think – oh my god what have I done to my children. It was a period of introspection that really made me think – If I could, what would I say to my children and the only appropriate thing I could say is sorry but I couldn’t get the word out.”
The pilot has received amazing feedback from participants and YCC and EdShift will continue to work together:
- All of the men agreed the most significant impact was seeing it directly from the children and hearing it from the children’s voices.
- All of the men agreed that the session significantly increased their motivation to change
- All of the men agreed that they viewed the impact of their behaviour on their children differently after the session.
- 98% of the men agreed that their motivation to change significantly increased after the session.
- 100% of the men agreed that there was a significant difference in how they felt the impact of their behaviour had on their children.
“My motivation changed because I finally started to see things from my daughter’s perspective and not my own. The impact that my behaviour has had on her and what that might mean for her future is terrifying but that makes me want to change.”