Case Study: DART helped to grow our relationship
Lillie has experienced domestic abuse from her now ex-partner, Richard, in the form of emotional abuse. Lillie was a different person when she was with Richard, she was controlled and belittled, and he made her feel worthless. Over the years of abuse, Lillie lost all confidence in herself to the point where she couldn’t do anything without Richard supporting her.
Lillie was referred to the DART programme due to suffering physical abuse from her son whilst Richard watched or left the room because he couldn’t cope with his needs and behaviour.
For the first few weeks, Lillie chose not to share a lot of information with the group as she didn’t feel comfortable doing so. Away from the group, she was spending a lot of time reflecting on her relationship with Richard, and many teary phone calls to her Mum. By the third week, she could see that Lewis was looking forward to the DART sessions as he had started to build good relationships with others; he felt happy, relaxed, and safe in the environment, allowing him to be himself. Lillie enjoyed noticing these changes, as he was relaxed, content, and not angry, aggressive, and hyper-virulent.
At this point, Lillie began to see a change in their relationship – Lewis started to hug her when she left the room, and told her several times that he loved her. Signs of emotion previous to DART from Lewis were rare as he spent a lot of time being angry with Lillie. Because of DART, she was observing a change in his mannerisms towards her during the sessions and at home.
As the weeks progressed, Lillie and Lewis’s relationship started to grow stronger and improve, bonding mother and son together again. Lillie has learnt things about Lewis over the programme that she didn’t know before.
Following the DART programme, Lillie is able to acknowledge that Richard’s behaviour was not acceptable. She is not the version of herself that was manipulated and controlled any more, the person she was before she met him, is the real Lillie.
Lillie is slowly rebuilding her confidence and gaining the strength for her and her children to move on with their lives. She has recognised that she is not all the things Richard would say she was, she is a kind, caring, funny person who can watch trash on TV if she wants to. It doesn’t matter to her anymore if she makes mistakes, and taking anti-depressants doesn’t make her weak or a failure, and she knows she is a good mother to her children.
Through DART (Domestic Abuse Recovering Together), children and mothers can learn to communicate and rebuild their relationship following their experience of domestic abuse. DART is a 10-week group programme where mother and child work together and apart, taking part in activities to learn, explore strategies, and build an understanding about domestic abuse. The aim is to provide mother and child with more confidence, improved self-esteem, and strengthen their relationship.
“For me, this has been a really positive experience. I have encountered many emotions along the way, from crying to being angry, to feeling empowered and confident. There is still a way to go to feeling like myself again, but I am definitely on the right path now.”
“If Lewis and I had not attending the DART programme, neither of us would be in this good place right now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kind help, support, and advice. We will miss not coming to the DART sessions. Thank you.”
Find out more about how we can support women and families affected by domestic abuse here.
*Names have been changed to protect client identities