Content Warning:  This post covers the topic of domestic violence and alcohol abuse and may be distressing for some readers.

Sam* has been in and out of prison so many times that even her mother has lost count. Unfortunately, on the times of his release, Angelique* regularly witnessed her dad’s violent and abusive outbursts towards her mother. These outbursts would almost always end with him passed out on the couch from the overconsumption of alcohol.

This level of household dysfunction started to impact Angelique. She struggled to express herself safely when experiencing fear and anger and the increasing episodes of self-harm such as pulling her hair and digging her nails into the palms of her hands were of major concern.

Angelique was referred to KidsXpress via a social worker who’d been supporting the family.

About nine sessions into the program, Angelique’s father was arrested for breaching an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) and the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) became involved. Both DCJ and KidsXpress worked together to support the family. Our therapist continued to support Angelique with regular therapy sessions and her mother was also supported with psychoeducation services and regular phone consults and check-ins.

Fifteen weeks after first coming to KidsXpress, Angelique and her mother report subtle, yet consistent improvements. She reports being better able to self-regulate by naming the emotion she’s feeling and sharing what she needed to do:

I need to breathe deeply so I feel calm.

They also reported a reduction in the self-harming behaviours. Angelique told our therapist:

I used to blame myself for the way my dad was, but I know now that my dad is responsible for his own actions which have nothing to do with me.

This was a very relieving feeling for Angelique. She says she wants to be a psychologist when she’s older so she can help other children in the same way our therapist helped her.

*At KidsXpress we respect the privacy of the children and families we support. So while their stories are true, stock images of children have been used and client names have been changed.