• Claire Verney

How do DV-ACT Experts Work with Mothers to Reduce their Vulnerability?

DV-ACT experts deliver a bespoke 1:1 treatment programme for mothers whose children are in child protection measures /proceedings with domestic abuse concerns.

This post will explain how DV-ACT delivers this intensive programme remotely, what it covers, the costs, and what reporting options are available.

Mum working remotely
Working remotely with vulnerable mother's

Who is the treatment programme for?

DV-ACT experts have used their decades of experience in the field of domestic abuse to create a unique bespoke programme specifically for mothers who are in care proceedings or who have children in child protection measures.

Most community domestic abuse programmes offer excellent education, support and advocacy to victims of violence and abuse. However, the needs of mothers in care proceedings are often complex, with enduring problems around adult attachments, accountability and prioritising their children’s safety. In these cases, more intensive, challenging and focused work is needed in order to support lasting change.

The DV-ACT programme is designed to work with mothers in the UK where the family court or local authority has concerns regarding ongoing vulnerability to domestic abuse. The programme is particularly suitable for women who:

  • have an enduring emotional attachment to their abuser

  • have a history of more than one abusive relationship

  • have failed to prioritise their own or their children’s safety when making decisions

  • have a history of separating and reconciling with their abuser

  • have had previous children’s services involvement

  • consistently minimise the abuse/retract statements

  • coached children to manage their responses to social workers

The work is demanding and matched to the needs of the woman and the child protection plan. It is not suitable for women who are still exposed to imminent risks, where the emphasis should be on safeguarding, safety planning and risk management.

Please note that this programme is only available where either, a risk/vulnerability report has already been completed by an expert or, if the work is instructed to run concurrently, alongside a full vulnerability assessment completed by DV-ACT.

What does the programme cover?

The 10 session programme is tailored to the needs of the mother and will cover the following:

  • Motivational work

  • Separating and reconciling - examining the process of 'getting back together'

  • Emotional attachment to the abuser - examining distorted thinking

  • Understanding the cycle of violence and abuse

  • Cultural imperatives to remain in the relationship/marriage

  • Developing insight into their own experience of childhood

  • What is a 'good father'

  • Exposure to violence as a child and the impact on adult attachments/learning

  • Prioritising the children's safety and risk management

  • Understanding the children's experience and reparative parenting

As it is a bespoke programme delivered on a one to one basis, further sessions can be included such as; immigration concerns, violent resistance, honour based violence, drug and alcohol use, self-esteem and self-efficacy.

How is the programme delivered?

The programme will be delivered on a one-to-one basis by a DV-ACT expert worker, using video link. The first session will include a 3-way session between the client, treatment worker and an expert assessor, where they will agree what the sessions will cover and what the mother's particular needs are. Sessions will then take place either once or twice a week depending upon the needs of the client and the stage that the case is at. There will be an additional session towards the end of the programme where the expert assessor will meet with the client in order to complete the final assessment report.

Sessions can be completed using an interpreter, should this be required, and face to face sessions may also be possible depending upon location and what government restrictions are in place at the time.

Will the programme include a report?

The programme includes an interim letter filed after the initial 3-way meeting that will set out the agreed treatment goals, what the programme will cover and how long it will take. A detailed final report is provided following the conclusion of the work. For the preservation of objectivity, all reports are completed by assessors independent from the practitioner completing the work. This report will advise what the programme covered, whether the mother has met the targets outlined at the beginning of the work and recommendations for further work and a practical risk management plan. As this report is completed by an expert assessor it can be used with confidence in court proceedings – all DV-ACT assessors are experienced expert witnesses.

Should the local authority require the work to run alongside a full assessment of the mother's vulnerability, the full assessment report will be filed at the end of the intervention including:

  • mother’s background, including exposure to violence as a child and any violence in previous relationships

  • history of domestic violence and the possible impact on the child, and the likelihood of further exposure of the child to domestic violence

  • mother’s emotional attachment to her partner and the role this plays in her decisions around safety

  • mother’s understanding of the impact of the domestic violence on children

  • an assessment of the impact of the abuse on the victim’s parenting

  • static and dynamic vulnerability indicators, including the ability to assess risk and prioritise safety, ability to access support and understanding of domestic abuse

  • range of factors that may have contributed to domestic violence risks

  • identifying vulnerability to future abuse

  • recommendations for risk management strategies and treatment options.

The assessment will be completed by an expert who is independent from the practitioner carrying out the treatment and can be used in court proceedings.

How long will it take?

The length of time that the programme will take is decided on a case by case basis and depends upon the needs of the mother and whether a report is required urgently for court proceedings. Sessions can take place once or twice a week and double (weekly) sessions are also available. At a minimum, the programme will take 10 weeks to complete or 15 weeks as a maximum, however, any filing dates given will depend upon the mother's attendance.

What is the cost of the programme?

The cost of the treatment programme will need to be met by the local authority, although the costs of a vulnerability assessment or final report can often be split between the local authority and the legally aided parties.

Further questions

If you have any further questions about the programme or wish to make a referral please contact me, Claire Verney, at info@dvact.org or call on 0203 9678368. If you would like to discuss a specific case a call back can be arranged with one of our clinical managers.

About us

DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy and training to local authorities and the family courts. Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses in the family courts.

DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do.