Expert Voices: A Child Abuse Awareness Month Exclusive

As we observe Child Abuse Awareness Month, we are proud to present insights from two of our dedicated Children Young People (CYP) and Families Support Workers Louise and Ram. Through the CYP team’s tireless efforts, The Haven Wolverhampton continues to provide essential services and support to children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

In this exclusive interview, Louise and Ram share their experiences, success stories, and innovative approaches, while also shedding light on the importance of societal change in response to child domestic abuse.

Join us as we dive into some thought-provoking questions and discover the passion, resilience, and dedication that drive our support workers in their mission to create a safer, more supportive environment for children and young people.

Can you share a moment or experience that really touched you and reminded you why the work we do is so vital?

Louise: As a CYP therapeutic worker I come across different types of abuse that children have suffered, but the most memorable case I have come across was when I worked with a family of 8 children that all received 121 therapeutic interventions with myself. All 8 children disclosed to me that their father (the perp) had been physically and emotionally abusive to each child, the father was also a pastor. This was such a shock to me as we trust in faith and presume help is given rather than inflicting traumatic experiences. I have to continue to support and empathy to all the children I work with and build positive relationships, because without this role children’s voices would probably not be heard and support will not be given where it is needed. Children would continue to be negatively impacted by those they trust and should be safe with.

Ram: Since working here, the one experience that really touched me was when I helped a 2-year-old boy finally be able to communicate with his deaf and mute mother. The family had moved to the refuge due to domestic abuse. Communication was always a struggle for both of them due to the mother’s speech and hearing impairments. Due to this, the child’s speech development was delayed. Through the child’s daily engagement with me in the form of group play sessions and 121 support sessions, he learned how to say different animals, colours, the word “mummy” and was also taught how to communicate with his mum through 121 sessions practising British Sign Language. It was amazing to see the transformation from when he first came here being nervous and scared, to becoming confident and happy within himself. He has learnt how to communicate key words such as “please, food, drink, toilet” through British Sign language with mum helped their relationship grow stronger! It reminded me that the work we do is absolutely vital to not only improve the wellbeing of children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse, but also aid in their development, working children of all ages to give them support!

What’s the most rewarding aspect of working with children and young people?

Louise: The most rewarding aspect is when a child has completed all their 121 sessions with me in the correct settings, feeling safe and secure within their own family homes. I find this very rewarding to see how far a child has come, from the beginning to the end of interventions. I am so proud of how children can overcome and build resilience after adverse childhood experiences when given the correct interventions and the support that they deserve.

Ram: The most rewarding aspect of working with children and young people is seeing their development, seeing them progress and blossom into amazing young people through our support. It’s about hearing their voice and making sure it’s heard, trying our hardest to meet their needs and being that person that they can open up to and trust. I would say that the most rewarding aspect is simply being there for these children who have their childhood stripped away from them, and just trying our absolute best to support them through it all.

Can you share a success story of a child or young person who has benefited from our services so far this year?

Louise: I worked closely with a 13-year-old boy with severe Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and special educational needs (SEN), who had witnessed domestic violence and been out of school for nearly two years. The family felt unsupported due to frequent changes in social workers.

I provided intensive support through family interventions and out-of-hours contact, coordinated emergency meetings, and ensured collaboration among professionals. After ten one-to-one sessions, the family felt heard and supported, leading to a reduction in their Child in Need (CIN) plan, and the child was successfully placed in a new school tailored to his needs. The family expressed gratitude for the support received, and the child continues to attend school and make progress.

Ram: One child who benefited from our CYP service this year is another 2-year-old boy who arrived with his mother last year, fleeing from domestic abuse. When he first arrived at refuge, he was very traumatised and scared to interact with anyone. The child was traumatised by his father and would scream and cry at the sight of any male worker. Through encouragement, mum would bring him to group sessions and 11 play sessions, however the child would be terrified to enter. Through consistent attempts bringing the child every day, he eventually developed a rapport with myself and began to come to the sessions over the course of a few months. This happened incrementally, starting off with 5 minutes attending alongside mum, to 15 minutes and to then being present for a whole hour with mum. This progressed further because as he kept that consistent engagement with our CYP service, he began to attend sessions independently. This was amazing to see how far he has come. In the beginning he would cry non-stop, would avoid looking at anyone as it would make him very upset, and would cling to mum and hide behind her for comfort. Through accessing support in our service, he has grown to become a confident young boy, making friends in refuge, independently approaching staff, and proudly taking part in activities.

If you could change one thing about the way society responds to child domestic abuse, what would it be and why?

Louise: Professionals and courts should prioritise children’s voices in decision-making processes, regardless of age, as their feelings and experiences are valid. In cases where a child has witnessed domestic violence, ensuring their well-being and addressing their trauma should be paramount.

For instance, when a father gains parental responsibilities despite a history of violence, children may feel unheard and distressed. It is crucial to provide support and consider their wishes while implementing interventions. It was disheartening to hear one child say: “I can’t wait until I am 13 so that I can refuse contact with my father.” By involving children in these decisions, we can better address their needs and prioritise their well-being.

Ram: I would change the perception of child abuse. Many people believe child domestic abuse has to involve the child being physically hurt or emotionally abused. Whilst this is true, it also includes children who have witnessed or simply heard domestic abuse taking place that makes them victims of child domestic abuse. I would change this perception to bring more awareness of child domestic abuse and change the way these children are treated, by being more mindful of their experiences.

Can you share examples of any creative or innovative ideas you’ve implemented that made a positive impact on the children and young people we support?

Louise: I worked with a 3-year-old boy in a refuge who exhibited hyperactivity, aggression, and communication difficulties, potentially due to undiagnosed ADHD/autism and past abuse. He could not communicate effectively for his age, he was physically abusive to staff and family and did not sleep he would scream for things he wanted and would swear at everyone, had no road awareness, he would run in the roads and put himself at risk. Even though mum used arm straps to protect him, he figured out how to remove them.  To support him, I implemented various strategies:

  • Ensured a safe environment, gradually introducing responsibilities like using scissors.
  • Simplified rules to prevent him from becoming overwhelmed, gradually introducing him to more as he progressed.
  • Created a safe space with a weighted blanket to help manage outbursts.
  • Developed a creative road safety program using art therapy and role-play, resulting in improved road awareness after three weeks.

These tailored interventions helped the child to better manage his behavior, communicate more effectively, and develop essential life skills.

Ram: Some creative ideas that have been implemented are having a feelings wall. At the start of every session, as children and young people walk in, they can touch the corresponding emotive image they feel on the wall such as “dancing” “high-five” “hug” “no-touch” and we as staff members do the corresponding action with them. It keeps us updated on how CYP are feeling and tracks their progress. It’s a very fun way for the child to also communicate with us how they are doing, as some CYP are not as comfortable to use their words as others may be.

Another creative idea is having a children’s music playlist ad keeping this a regular theme throughout sessions. Music helps a lot of children cope through things, and for some children they don’t have access to a phone or tablet to listen to this music. So we created “Our Playlist” which is full of songs the children love and enjoy. This has made a very positive impact on their wellbeing, as they often enjoy sessions all singing together.

How do you think we can all contribute to building a safer and more supportive society for children and young people affected by domestic abuse?

Louise: We need more funding and staff available to provide more support and deliver even more interventions to the wider community, because there are so many children outside of refuge who desperately need our support. It makes me quite upset knowing I have vulnerable children on long waiting lists. The positive impact we’ve seen from our current support programs demonstrates the potential for transforming lives when we have the necessary resources. With increased capacity, we can build on our successes, reduce waiting lists, and ensure that every child receives the vital support they need to thrive.

Ram: We need more partnership working within agencies, greater communication across agencies and more collaborative work to spread awareness. I think by empowering children and young people, and providing that safe space for them to access this support, we can ensure they feel safe and supported.

By understanding the challenges faced by children and young people affected by domestic abuse and learning from the experiences of those on the front lines, we can work together to develop services that address their unique needs, promote healing and resilience, foster supportive environments, empower their voices, and ultimately break the cycle of abuse for future generations.
The life-changing impact of Louise, Ram, and the entire CYP team is a testament to the vital work they do every day. However, their efforts rely on the generosity of people like you. If you feel inspired to support The Haven and the families we serve, please consider making a donation.
Your gift can make a real difference:
  • £7.50 could cover the cost of a mother’s call to our emergency helpline.
  • £12 could provide a one-hour VR therapy session for children to help them heal from trauma.
  • £25 could provide a one-hour animal therapy session to support children through innovative counseling methods.
  • £35 could offer a memorable day out for a woman and her children at a local attraction, allowing them to create new, happier memories together away from abuse.
Together, we can continue to provide essential services and create brighter futures for children and families affected by domestic abuse. Thank you for considering a donation to The Haven. To donate, please click here or contact us at




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