COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the importance of empowering those who are affected by domestic abuse to receive support. It has also raised questions, which will persist once lockdown restrictions ease, about how best to support mental health and emotional regulation, especially for those with underlying needs caused by previous trauma.
The evidence is clear that expectant and new parents and their babies are particularly affected by domestic abuse. Trauma in infancy can be devastating. Left unresolved, it can increase risks of future domestic abuse and profoundly affect lives and prospects for individuals, families and generations to come.
This is why The For Baby’s Sake Trust created its pioneering programme, For Baby’s Sake, to work with parents to break the cycle. Our new website includes information on For Baby’s Sake and the evidence base. We are also starting to share a few carefully selected resources from the programme, which parents have said are often their ‘go-to’ tools to support their emotional regulation, along with some materials for wider use by professionals, based on how we work in a trauma-informed way.
We want to raise awareness of the needs of new and expectant parents and encourage them to know they are not alone. That is why we commissioned our new research with parents, the results of which really bring home why it is so important we give new parents the support they need to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their babies a better start in life.
A third of all parents (33%) have experienced a partner using abusive behaviour towards them, and that rises to 54% for parents who had domestic abuse in their family home as a child. 40% of parents who experienced domestic abuse said it occurred during their baby’s first 1001 days from pregnancy until the baby’s second birthday. That first 1001 days is crucial and parents know it. 89% of parents say that parents’ lives during pregnancy and in the first two years of a baby’s life are important in defining the type of person the baby becomes as an adult. (See our News section for more information on this survey.)
Raising a baby can be an amazing, positive and life-changing experience but it can also be a real challenge, particularly if the parents have had a traumatic childhood or are in an abusive relationship. This isn’t inevitable, there is another way and we have a duty to give these parents the support they need to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their babies the best possible start in life.
CEO, The For Baby’s Sake Trust