Category: News

A chance to break the cycle – a message from the CEO

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.

Amanda McIntyre

CEO, The For Baby’s Sake Trust

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Press Release: 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

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.

-ENDS-

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT

Sophie Marjoram 

Forster Communications

sophie@forster.co.uk 07795 607018

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 
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Webinar recording, 17 Sept 2020. There is another way – breaking the cycle of domestic abuse

We are delighted to share a recording of our webinar held on 17 September 2020, when over 400 delegates joined us for the premiere of our animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby.

In this powerful film, parents tell their stories, in their own voices, of what led them into the For Baby’s Sake programme and the life-changing difference it has made to them and their baby.

The event included a discussion on new approaches to breaking the cycle of trauma and domestic abuse in families and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life.

You can watch the webinar here. Lasting just 60 minutes, you will hear from:

· Stelio Stefanou, Chairman, The For Baby’s Sake Trust

· Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner

· Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and our first For Baby’s Sake ambassador

· Dr Jill Domoney, Research Clinical Psychologist, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London

· Emma Lazenby, Director of the For Baby’s Sake film

· Amanda McIntyre, CEO, The For Baby’s Sake Trust

All speakers highlighted the lessons from the For Baby’s Sake programme and the value of working with the whole family, and doing so during the precious time when babies are developing, in order to break cycles of domestic abuse and childhood trauma.

In her speech, Amanda McIntyre said that The For Baby’s Sake Trust is calling for the recent amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill currently in Parliament, which recognises children as victims in their own right, to be amended further so it is explicit in covering babies, including those still in the womb. Otherwise, those babies risk being overlooked, despite domestic abuse being particularly harmful to them and often starting in pregnancy.

She also said that the For Baby’s Sake Trust is keen to play a growing role in turning the tide on domestic abuse, through the expansion of its services, including by launching For Baby’s Sake CONNECT, which will provide remote access to the ground-breaking For Baby’s Sakeprogramme to families across the UK who do not yet have the benefit of a local dedicated team in their area.

Please share our video with anyone you feel would be interested. You can find us on Twitter @forbabyssake

To view our press release click here

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The For Baby’s Sake Trust urges a shake-up of how we tackle domestic violence

The For Baby’s Sake Trust (formerly the Stefanou Foundation) is calling on government, local authorities and charities to look at what new approaches can be taken to break the cycle of domestic abuse, such as the whole-family approach of the pioneering For Baby’s Sake programme which seeks to address the trauma that often sits at the heart of the issue.

As a significant signal of radical change, the Trust wants to see the recent amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill currently in Parliament, which recognises children as victims in their own right, to be amended further so it is explicit in covering babies, including those still in the womb. Otherwise, those babies risk being overlooked, despite domestic abuse being particularly harmful to them and often starting in pregnancy.

The call comes as the Trust launches a powerful new animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby, featuring the raw testimony of a mother and father who are on the For Baby’s Sake programme, which works with the whole family to deal with the trauma and complex needs that are so often unaddressed for the parents, breaking the cycle and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life.

The For Baby’s Sake programme has been running since 2015 and an evaluation of the first four years, led by King’s College London and published in May 2020, identified it as the first programme of its kind to ‘fill an important gap in provision’ through its ‘unique approach’, working with the whole family and starting in pregnancy, when babies need protection and parents are motivated to change.

Stelio Stefanou, Chairman of The For Baby’s Sake Trust, said:

“Trauma in infancy devastates lives and it can start even before a child is born. Left unresolved, it can lead to dysfunctional relationships, domestic abuse and more harm to children and families for generations. It affects the whole family – baby, mother and father. The current prevailing approach to domestic abuse is too narrow, practitioners are effectively being asked to tackle it with one hand tied behind their backs.

“There is another way. The For Baby’s Sake programme empowers expectant parents with what they need to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their baby the best possible start in life, especially by helping them to come to terms with trauma and adversity in their own childhoods. Adopting approaches like this would reduce the burden on our stretched public services, supporting them to really tackle the issue rather than being left to pick up the pieces.

“We have a huge opportunity with the Domestic Abuse Bill going through Parliament at the moment. We have to use this as a chance to challenge the national ambition and move our system from one that primarily manages the fall-out of domestic abuse to truly targeting the trauma that is at the root cause. The alarming rise in domestic abuse during lockdown has made this even more urgent.”

The For Baby’s Sake programme adopts a unique three-way approach, with a specialist working with the father, another working closely with the mother, and both focusing on the overall wellbeing and development of the baby and any other children, starting before the baby is born. 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 cycle caused by trauma in childhood.

The film was launched at a virtual event on 17 September, supported by a discussion on new approaches to tackling domestic violence, with speakers including Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and the newly appointed first ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme.

Speaking about the need for new approaches, Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, said:

“With so much concern for those subject to domestic abuse during lockdown, plus the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through parliament, we have a once in a generation opportunity to explore and take forward new ways of dealing with this pernicious issue. We owe it to all those affected by domestic abuse to challenge our current thinking and approaches, which is why it so important that we evaluate and learn from programmes like For Baby’s Sake.”

Frank Mullane, Founder and CEO of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and an ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme, said: 

“I am proud to be the first ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme which is doing something now about the life chances of babies. It recognises that to give the baby the best chance in life, we have to work with today’s reality. It is a courageous, evidence-based project, breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and it is informed by values that surely most of us share.”

Later this year, the Trust is planning to launch For Baby’s Sake CONNECT, providing remote access to its ground-breaking programme and giving more families the chance to benefit from its pioneering approach to tackling domestic violence.

The programme currently operates in Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and west London (Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham).

For Baby’s Sake CONNECT was developed during lockdown, when parents across these four sites kept up their one-to-one sessions with practitioners by phone and video technology, some actually found it easier to work through painful issues in this way and new families continued to join.

Using technology makes it possible to deliver the programme to families located anywhere in the UK, working directly with mothers and fathers and contributing effectively to local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements wherever the parents live. The charity is intending to roll out For Baby’s Sake CONNECT this autumn, using existing resources to engage a small number of families initially, while building on experience and raising additional sources of funding to build capacity. The addition of For Baby’s Sake CONNECT service will reach families that do not yet have the benefit of a dedicated local team and scale up the For Baby’s Sake programme across the UK more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.

Media enquiries:

Peter Gilheany, Forster Communications peter@forster.co.uk, 07798 881180

Molly Downes, Forster Communications molly@forster.co.uk

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For Baby’s Sake – Join us for our film premiere and discussion, 17 September 2020

On the 17 September we will be hosting a screening of our powerful new animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby, showcasing the ground-breaking For Baby’s Sake programme. This animation follows one families journey in their own words.

The animation will be followed by a discussion on new approaches to breaking the cycle of trauma and domestic abuse in families and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life. It will include contributions from Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and Emma Lazenby who collaborated with us closely during the making of this film.

To join us please register on the Eventbrite link below-

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/there-is-another-way-breaking-the-cycle-of-domestic-abuse-tickets-116712427011

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Academic evaluation says ‘unique’ For Baby’s Sake ‘fills an important gap in provision’

For Baby’s Sake, the innovative whole-family programme created by the Stefanou Foundation to tackle the cycle of domestic abuse, is described in a report published on 28 May 2020 as the first of its kind to fill an important gap in provision. The in-depth, independent evaluation of For Baby’s Sake, led by King’s College London, was the result of a four-year study and highlights how the programme’s unique approach, working with the whole family, is overcoming key limitations to responding to domestic abuse.

Professor Louise Howard of King’s College London, who led the evaluation team, said, ‘For Baby’s Sake was developed using the evidence base on domestic abuse, pregnancy, trauma, and infant and perinatal mental health.  The For Baby’s Sake team have worked with local government, especially children’s social care, and engaged parents with multiple complex needs and histories of childhood trauma.  Most of the people we interviewed for the evaluation, who remained in For Baby’s Sake over time, were able to identify specific ways that they had changed their behaviour, and related these to aspects of the programme.’

Stelio Stefanou, Chairman of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘We’re pleased that the evaluation led by King’s College London has confirmed what we already knew from experience; that For Baby’s Sake is ground-breaking and parents are using it to make changes for themselves and their babies. New legislation going through Parliament proves there is a desire to transform how the UK addresses domestic abuse whilst, sadly, the recent lockdown restrictions have created an urgency for achieving it.’

Amanda McIntyre, Director of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘‘Cambridgeshire and Blackpool have already opened For Baby’s Sake sites, building on the experience of the programme in Hertfordshire and London. The evaluation findings, along with the way parents are continuing to reach out to For Baby’s Sake during COVID-19, have made us even more keen to work with partners to expand further, to reach more babies and families to break the cycle of domestic abuse.’

We are very grateful to the co-designers, Roxane Agnew-Davies, Mark Coulter and Christine Puckering who we commissioned to work closely with us on the design of For Baby’s Sake.

We are also grateful to so many partners and stakeholders for their teamwork and support to reach this point.  Some of them have kindly provided quotes to mark the publication of the evaluation.  

To read their reflections, to download the joint summary of the evaluation and register to read the full report click here

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#ReachOut during COVID-19: For Baby’s Sake Practitioner supports dad to understand his newborn

We’re launching a new series of #ReachOut blog posts during COVID-19 on how For Baby’s Sake continues to support families and partner agencies. We’re proud of our practitioners who are making creative use of technology to continue delivering vital front-line work.

Here is our first brief story, from a For Baby’s Sake Practitioner who writes: ‘I was privileged today to video call and speak with a father and his new baby was present in the room. He described his baby as robust and different from his other children. I informed him of my recent Newborn Behavioural Observation (NBO) training and helped him to further observe and recognise that his baby was in deep sleep state and had been protecting his sleep throughout the session. He found it fascinating and stated that he thought all babies were the same!’  

For Baby’s Sake has been supporting this family since pregnancy.  Working separately with mother and father, there is a big emphasis in our antenatal work on supporting parents to increase their own emotional safety and reduce stress for their baby.  It was encouraging to see the father in this family recognising his newborn baby’s ability and being wonderfully curious about it.   

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#ReachOut during COVID-19: Supporting a mum to understand feelings behind behaviour

This is the second in our series of #ReachOut blog posts during COVID-19. Our For Baby’s Sake Practitioners continue to support families, learning and developing how we can still deliver front line work through technology.

During a Video Interactive Guidance (VIG) session with a mum our For Baby’s Sake Practitioner was able to open up a discussion around the feelings of all her children, they write: ‘Yesterday I completed a VIG review session over FaceTime, the unusual circumstances didn’t interfere with the session or the reviewing of the VIG, we were both able to see each other and the clips. In one of the clips, mum noted that she asked her baby if she was tired, this led to a conversation around identifying, acknowledging and naming feelings.  She told me that she is giving her older two children more opportunities to talk about their feelings since engaging with For Baby’s Sake.  She gave an example of how she had noted her son was angry, named the feeling and tried to have a conversation with him about it. I built on this explaining that anger is often a cover up for another feeling. Mum noted that the anger may have come from him being frustrated with a game he had been given that didn’t have instructions with it. She agreed that knowing the feeling behind a behaviour made it easier to understand and deal with it positively.’

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#ReachOut during COVID-19: For Baby’s Sake Practitioner supports dad to refocus on his baby

For Baby’s Sake practitioners continue to work every day with mums and dads who have experienced trauma in their lives – and yet really want to make changes, to break cycles of abuse and to protect their babies and children.  In a recent therapeutic session, a father was supported to understand how his use of instrumental emotions* and judgements on his co-parent was having a negative effect on their co-parenting.  The episode had been triggered by a media report on COVID-19, which heightened tensions in the home resulting in the loss of  focus on their baby and child.  This family is on their own journey – making a transition from ‘intimate’ to a ‘co-parenting’ relationship. Our For Baby’s Sake practitioner was able to provide the dad with strategies to contain and process his emotions and restore his focus.  Subsequent feedback from dad was both welcome and reassuring.

For Baby’s Sake recognises that this could have a long-term impact, potentially including developmental trauma, for babies and young children.  Brenda Evans, our Therapeutic Lead, has written some specialist guidance, providing context around the risks to mental and emotional health and offering advice on providing trauma-informed and attachment-focused support to vulnerable families at this time.  You can download a copy of the guidance by going to the resources section of our website.

Babies and toddlers can be emotionally overwhelmed when their sense of safety has been lost.  The guidance offers tips on the signs that this might be happening and suggestions to help parents to be prepared to understand and to act.  Empowering parents to make home a safe base for babies and children has rarely been more important.  Parents also need to know that reaching out for support when they need it is a sign of resilience.   

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