Supporting Domestic Violence Victims with Proven Methods

Jessica was referred to Exchange Family Center’s Parenting of Adolescents (POA) program to receive support improving her relationship with her mother (Jane) and addressing the emotional distress they both witnessed/experienced while living with domestic violence.

At the beginning of treatment, Jessica and her mother had only recently moved out of their family home where domestic violence had been frequent, lasting over a period of years and dangerous. The daughter-mother duo desperately needed support navigating their own relationship in the aftermath of their once volatile living situation and struggled communicating effectively with one another. They argued almost every day, very seldom saw eye to eye and resolve was elusive.

Jessica felt her mom made poor decisions and often viewed herself as a peer rather than her parent while Jane felt her daughter’s attitude was intolerable and hard to manage. They were referred to the Exchange Family Center (EFC) and placed under its Parenting of Adolescents program. After assessment, EFC’s Parenting of Adolescent’s (POA) family therapists felt that Jessica and her mother Jane would most benefit from services under it’s Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) model. Both mother and daughter participated in the program seven months; during which time, the POA therapist assigned to Jessica’s and Jane’s case helped the young teen process her experience as a child/teen growing up with domestic violence in the home, how it affected her perspective of each parent and how it impacted her relationship asl well as communication with her mom.

The POA Family Therapist assisted Jane with processing her experience and establishing a new framework of herself and lf her family; understanding the impact that domestic violence has on children/teens and how each person can interpret and express their experience differently, as well as; identifying ways to connect with her children differently now that are safe and in a better environment.

Through family sessions, Jessica and her mom were able to express themselves and their experience to each other and were able to see the other's point of view more clearly. Jessica and her mom began to use more direct communication and recognize stress signals within each other to help them identify opportunities to give each other space, communicate more directly, acknowledge when the other was struggling in their intercommunication efforts and be more mindful of the other's needs. By the end of treatment, Jessica and her mom both reported fewer arguments, more positive time spent together and a more clear understanding of their own needs.

Jessica reported feeling happier and more comfortable in the home and her mother began individual therapy to further continue her own healing process. During the last session, Jessica's mom shared that she never really understood how much the violence her and her children experienced in the home had affected them until now, and felt that it made a significant difference in their relationship now that she knew.