Teen Outreach Service Case Study: Sarah

Background and presenting issues

Sarah was referred into NIDAS by her mum who was concerned around her 17 year old daughters relationship. Mum informed us that Sarah had witnessed domestic abuse to mum from previous partners the majority of her life. Mum stated that Sarah had a diagnosis of autism and knows how to treat people, however is unaware/does not notice if people do not treat her well and finds it hard to understand feelings and emotions of others as well as her own. Due to there being current concerns Sarah was picked up immediately for support due to her additional needs also.

From the initial call with mum and the concerns raised a referral was completed to MASH (Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub) and this family were allocated a social worker.

Sarah completed 10 face to face sessions of support.

From my initial face to face meeting with Sarah she informed me of her past experiences of witnessing domestic abuse growing up and had witnessed extensive physical and emotional abuse from an early age.

I completed a DASH with Sarah which she was assessed at medium risk.

Sarah informed me of her own intimate relationship and how her partner was treating her and the physical incidents that had taken place of him kicking her, putting his hands around her throat and also burning her face with an incense stick. Sarah stated that he would often tell her to stop complaining whenever she tried to tell him how she felt. Sarah would blame his behaviour and him getting mad on his diagnosis of ADHD.

Assessment and work completed:

Once I had completed the assessment with Sarah social care held a strategy meeting which within this meeting the decision was made to stop Sarah from having contact with her partner unsupervised whilst social care completed a section 47.

Due to Sarah having Autism she understood the work better completing many pieces using flash cards.

On Sarah being informed she could only have supervised contact once a week with her partner she informed me that she was struggling with her mental health and crying daily so we started off by discussing different grounding techniques and things she could do in times of need as from assessment Sarah stated how she was on anti depressants as she struggles with her emotions and used to self harm.

After this we went on to complete an activity with flash cards on DVA awareness for Sarah to have a good understanding of the different categories under the header of DVA and then statements of common behaviours for her to understand what category the behaviours go under. From this activity Sarah had a good understanding of many of the categories under the umbrella of DVA however was not aware that a number of the behaviours under them were abusive, from this activity we were able to explore and discuss in more depth what she had witnessed growing up along with what she had been experiencing herself.

The next week we explored what behaviours are seen to be supportive or abusive within teenage intimate relationships specifically, and how abusers can portray abusive behaviours to come across as being supportive. Sarah was able to identify with a number of these behaviours. We discussed further around the reason behind abusers’ behaviours is to have power and control over another person however at first Sarah was not accepting of this as she would say he would get angry and struggle with this due to his ADHD however after discussing this at length and giving many examples Sarah began to agree that on many occasions it is a choice that is made and an abuser has plenty opportunity to walk away.

We completed work on what sexual abuse and sexual harassment are for her to have a good understanding.

We explored what makes a relationship healthy and then explored with Sarah what she needs within her own intimate relationship for her to be happy as we are all different in what we need. Sarah wrote a list, I then asked Sarah out of the list what her three top priorities were. After doing this I asked if she got these from her partner she said not very often. We discussed if there was anything else she could do or say to get the message across to her partner regarding her needs, Sarah stated not as he sees it as complaining and shuts her down.

Safety planning:

We completed safety planning at length due to the physical incidents that had taken place and also got her full access to the safety app Hollie Guard from some local initiative that was happening. After completing safety planning we went on to discuss conflict resolution to have a better understanding of how to deal with conflict appropriately and when to walk away to keep herself safe along with exploring with her how she recognises her partner is getting angry as Sarah would struggle to pick up on emotional cues so we explored past situations to understand what he says and his behaviour before the anger.


At the end of support Sarah was really beginning to question her relationship and her partners intentions and feeling like she deserved to be treated better.

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