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Program Highlight: Mothering Through Domestic Violence Group

Mothering Through Domestic Violence (MTDV) is a group offered through the Advocacy Center and facilitated by Domestic Violence Advocates. This group is for adult mothers who are not currently in an abusive relationship, but identify as a survivor of intimate partner violence. This 8-week psychoeducational group meets weekly and covers a range of topics, including ways that domestic violence impacts family dynamics, developmental impacts of trauma on children, and strategies to strengthen effective parenting. This group honors and enriches children and women’s resiliency.  

According to Domestic Violence Advocate and MTDV facilitator Mariah, “This group feels like it’s meeting a need that our clients have wanted for a long time. So many of our clients are mothers who have wanted to talk about how to continue to parent children who have been traumatized by DV.” Mariah notes that parenting a child who has been impacted by domestic violence present unique challenges, and is complicated by the fact that the mother has also been traumatized. “The trauma for the mother and the child doesn’t necessarily end when the relationship ends,” she adds.

Each new group cycle begins with a basic Domestic Violence 101 and then delves more deeply into specific topics, such as how trauma affects children differently depending on their age and how to parent in a trauma-informed way while still exercising self-care. Another topic covered in the group is difficult behaviors that mothers might see in their children.

 “A lot of our clients have children that, because they are traumatized and triggered, yell and scream,” Mariah describes. “That can feel very triggering for our participants because it feels similar – and may be mimicking – the abuser. Take care of yourself first. Don’t try to parent or discipline a child while you’re triggered.”

This is why self-care is such an important topic within MTDV sessions. We discuss many different ways to take care of yourself including therapy, journaling, and taking care of your basic needs (adequate food and sleep, for example).  Every session ends with journaling as a way to both reflect and tell advocates what they might not feel comfortable saying in front of the rest of the participants. Support without judgment is key in MTDV sessions. We understand that we don’t know what it’s like to be our clients, and we don’t claim to have all the answers. We provide acceptance and support, while also acknowledging that our client is the expert in their situation.

“I think the most powerful impact – which is the most powerful impact in any group – is that our clients come together and can talk to other people who get it, who don’t need an explanation, and can just support you,” according to Mariah. “It’s impactful for the clients and for the co-facilitators as well – to watch our clients support each other,  care for each other, and build connections that continue outside of the agency.”

Participants can find MTDV by calling the Advocacy Center at 607-277-3203 and doing an intake with an advocate.