Friday 26th February, 2021
New research highlights the urgent need to help new parents 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, rising to 54% for parents who had domestic abuse in their family home as a child
- Over one fifth of all parents (21%) 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
- 19% of those parents who experienced domestic abuse as children have found that lockdown has triggered feelings of trauma in relation to that childhood experience
- 40% of those parents who experienced domestic abuse during pregnancy or the first two years of their child’s life didn’t feel able to seek professional help at the time and a third (33%) said they didn’t know where to begin to look for help. Only 10% received professional help at the time
- For parents who experienced domestic abuse during pregnancy or before their baby reached age two, the most frequently identified motivation for thinking about seeking help was to give their give their baby and/or child(ren) a better start in life (cited by 32%), while the most frequently cited barrier was feeling ashamed (cited by 37%)
- A baby’s start in life profoundly impacts their own experiences as an adult – 89% of all parents think the upbringing given by your parents is important for the type of person you become
Major new research published today by The For Baby’s Sake Trust highlights the shocking prevalence of domestic abuse amongst parents, particularly for those who experienced domestic abuse as children, and how lockdown has triggered feelings of trauma for some of these parents. Most telling is the data about the prevalence of domestic abuse during pregnancy and before babies reach age two, with insights into parents’ motivations and their barriers to seeking support.
The For Baby’s Sake Trust has published the research, commissioned by YouGov*, to help raise awareness of the scale of domestic abuse among expectant parents and parents of babies and young children and help to enable them to receive the support they need.
The Trust wants new parents affected by domestic abuse to know they are not alone. Hearing that 40% of parents who have experienced domestic abuse said it occurred during pregnancy, or before their baby reached age two, can help parents to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and feel more able to seek professional support.
The survey showed that the time from pregnancy until a baby’s second birthday, known as a baby’s first 1001 days, was the most common time for domestic abuse to occur during parenthood. These survey results are in line with academic evidence about the high prevalence of domestic abuse during this period. The survey also underlines that this has been a long term trend which persists today, indicating that more needs to be done to reach parents at this time.
Parents identified a number of major barriers to seeking help when experiencing domestic abuse during pregnancy or before their baby reached age two:
- Feeling ashamed (37%)
- Worrying about experiencing more abuse as a consequence (33%)
- Not knowing how to talk about the situation (33%)
- Not thinking it was serious enough to seek help (32%)
- Worrying about the consequences to my baby, in terms of action by the authorities (27%)
- Not wanting to be judged (27%)
The For Baby’s Sake Trust has created a programme, For Baby’s Sake, which takes a unique approach to addressing these barriers. Both parents join For Baby’s Sake during pregnancy, whether together as a couple or not, and may be supported until their baby reaches age two. The programme’s whole family approach includes support for parents to deal with any trauma and complex needs that are so often unaddressed.
For Baby’s Sake began with area-based teams in Hertfordshire and London and in the last 18 months, new teams started working in Cambridgeshire and Blackpool. The For Baby’s Sake Trust is working to launch For Baby’s Sake CONNECT, based on experience of operating during lockdown, to deliver the programme using video and phone technology to families in a limited number of additional places without an area-based team.
The For Baby’s Sake Trust is also starting to release some carefully selected tools and resources that are used within the programme, which may be of wider use to parents and professionals. These can help parents to deal with difficult situations and help with emotional regulation or support conversations between parents and professionals to explore whether domestic abuse is occurring. These are available on The For Baby’s Sake Trust’s new website, along with evidence about domestic abuse, infant development and the needs of parents and families.
Speaking about the research, Amanda McIntyre, CEO of The For Baby’s Sake Trust, said:
“This research really brings 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.
“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.”
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2224 parents, of which 281 had experienced domestic abuse from a partner during pregnancy and/or the first two years of their child’s life. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 9th February 2021. The survey was carried out online.
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NOTES TO EDITOR:
ABOUT THE FOR BABY’S SAKE TRUST:
Trauma in infancy devastates lives. Left unresolved, it can lead to dysfunctional relationships, domestic abuse and more harm to children and families for generations to come.
The For Baby’s Sake Trust is a registered charity (1126459) focused on breaking cycles of domestic abuse, tackling the root causes and giving babies the best start in life. It does this through its flagship programme, For Baby’s Sake, which is the first to work holistically with both parents, starting in pregnancy, where there is domestic abuse.
The Trust amplifies its impact by raising awareness and sharing its learning about the needs of parents and babies during the time when babies’ brains are developing, the impact of domestic abuse and trauma on families and how to break cycles of adversity and build resilience.
ABOUT FOR BABY’S SAKE:
The programme adopts a unique three-way approach, with a specialist working with one parent, another working closely with the other, and both focusing on the overall wellbeing and development of the baby and any other children. As a result, it deals with the entire cycle and history of domestic violence and abuse, identifying and directly addressing the trauma or traumas that lie at the heart of the problem. The end result is both parents play a positive role in raising their child, whether together or apart, turning one, two, three or even more lives around, and breaking the pernicious cycle caused by trauma in childhood.
Innovative features of For Baby’s Sake include that:
- It starts in pregnancy, to harness the motivations of both parents to be good parents and give their baby a different start in life from the one they had
- Both parents join the programme and each person is allocated their own practitioner to work with them separately and therapeutically over an extended period, until their baby is aged two
- Practitioners work together to develop a holistic picture of the issues for all members of the family and understand any risks and safeguarding issues
- There is no goal for parents to stay together or separate and parents find this empowering
- Domestic abuse risks are known to escalate at points of separation. The programme’s way of working with both parents enhances safety at this time for all family members
- It combines evidence-based approaches to address domestic abuse and the impact of parents’ own childhood trauma, alongside building parenting tools for mothers and fathers, focused on sensitive, attuned interaction with their babies
THE PROGRAMME’S IMPACT:
An academic evaluation of For Baby’s Sake from 2015 to 2019, led by King’s College London, concluded that it is the ‘first’ to ‘fill an important gap in provision’ and its ‘unique’ features ‘address limitations’ of existing responses to domestic abuse.
Parents who have participated in For Baby’s Sake describe the programme’s impact:
“We were dealing with domestic abuse, but it didn’t feel like we were just pointing the finger… it allowed me to heal and come into myself. It’s given me the confidence to be a good mum” – For Baby’s Sake Mother
“I feel I am able to communicate my emotions a lot better. Doing this work has made me go, “Okay, if I’m getting angry then, actually, what’s going on internally for me?” Then, I can actually communicate what’s going on internally a lot better” -– For Baby’s Sake Father
A father, speaking about his baby, said, “He’s had the best start in my family as far back as anyone can remember, and that is not an accident.”
FOR ANYONE NEEDING URGENT HELP IN RELATION TO DOMESTIC ABUSE
- The For Baby’s Sake Trust advises anyone in immediate risk to ring 999
- 24 hour support is available from the National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247