Engaging with young people who use DFV | HMA

Engaging with young people who use DFV 

Increasing attention is being directed at youth domestic and family violence. A significant amount of violence against parents goes unreported to formal systems (Police, Youth Justice). We also know that there is significant underreporting of dating relationships that young people are involved with.

Last year we had the privilege of working with Mission Australia to develop a 12-session individual intervention program for young people who have used violence and their domestic and family situations. The program takes a strength-based approach predicated upon the idea of staying strong. The conversation was about ‘Who am I apart from a person using abuse and violence’. Many young people have taken positions of resistance against abusive practices within their own family situations, where patterns of abusive behaviour have been modelled. 

The fundamental question is, “How did I learn to be me?” This question is based on the idea that behaviour is learnt. When we look at the research on young people in domestic and family violence, we see an overrepresentation of adverse childhood experiences.  

It is often difficult to talk about her own behaviour. We partnered with Like-Minded to develop several short vignettes based on real cases of young people coming to Mission Australia staff.

(Warning: Strong Language)

These allow a young person to explore behaviour in other people and then make associations with their own behaviour. We have used this learning method across several other programs and found it incredibly useful for initiating conversations. We can all be experts on other people’s experiences.  

Along with material on safety planning, thinking processes and managing strong emotions, the program also explores making the right call at the right time. Getting ahead of situations and sussing out high risk, is really at the heart of accountability.  

Our challenge as a community is to support young people to disrupt patterns of domestic and family violence behaviour before they become entrenched. We know that this is one of the behaviours that, once established, often follows the young person through the life course. We owe it to young people to do the best we can to support them to start and stay strong. 

Published on Wednesday, January 11th, 2023, under Family violence, Programme design & development, Youth offending

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