Evaluation of the Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) service Helping mothers rebuild relationships with their children after domestic abuse

Mother and son looking at paper and smilingDomestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) is a group work programme for mothers and children who have experienced domestic abuse.

Mothers who have lived with an abusive partner may underestimate the effects of the abuse on their children. DART provides joint sessions for mothers and children to do activities together that help them talk about their experiences and feelings. This primary focus on relationships between mothers and children is unique to DART.

This report provides evidence about what helps to reduce the impact of domestic abuse on the relationships between mothers and children. A requirement for all the families taking part in DART was that the abuser was no longer part of the household. This report is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Emma Smith
Published: 2016

  • DART helps children to move on from domestic abuse. The majority of children experienced fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties after DART. This improvement was significantly greater than for a comparison group of children involved in an alternative service for mothers and children affected by domestic abuse.
  • Mothers had more confidence in their parenting abilities and greater self-esteem after completing the DART programme.
  • Joint activities with their children helped mothers understand how the abuse had affected their children and how this related to challenging behaviours.
  • Children reported their mothers being more affectionate to them after DART and mothers reported feeling more affectionate towards their children.
  • Relationships between some mothers and children were negatively affected because of contact with the abuser or resuming a relationship with the ex-partner after the programme ended. However, some mothers reported that being helped to understand the impact of domestic abuse on their children was key in preventing them from returning to an abusive relationship.
  • We're supporting other providers to make DART more widely available. The other providers will evaluate the implementation of the service.
  • We're sharing our findings at conferences. So far we've presented at international BASPCAN (British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) conferences. We've published articles in Child Abuse Review (Smith E. et al, 2015) and Child Care in Practice (McManus et al, 2013).
Acknowledgements 4
Key Findings: Young people’s version 5
Key Findings 6
Executive Summary 7
Chapter 1: Introduction 10
Chapter 2: Outcomes 23
Chapter 3: Views of the programme 30
Chapter 4: Facilitators and barriers to success 34
Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusion 42
References 44
Appendices 47

"Now my mother is thinking of me more and says lovely things about me."

"I liked talking about the fighting and arguments with my mum because [my mum] can help me."

"My daughter stopped blaming herself. She attended a group for kids but attending the group together really helped as she saw my issues too."

Please cite as: Emma Smith (2016) Evaluation of Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together: final report. London: NSPCC.

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Helping mums and children strengthen their relationship after domestic abuse.
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