“Something about The Martell’s circumstances blew us away and we knew how much we had to help them…”
The Martell’s story is something that stood out to us, even as we work with them to do this day. We’ve helped many families with a history of domestic violence, but this was different. The pain was incredibly visible and we knew how badly they all needed our help.
There had been alleged domestic abuse between Mum and Dad, and they had separated. They had agreed on regular contact with their child until the Mother discovered photos of the Father using drugs on social media. Shortly after, the Father was caught speeding with their child in the car. This only fueled the negativity in the family and it soon became a stalemate. The Father went for drug tests to prove his innocence, and he came out trumps. Contact was resumed despite the circumstances even though the Mother was extremely nervous. The family had decided to come to us as opposed to trying independently, and we believe this helped them tenfold.
The date of their first session with us came around and tensions were high. The Mother arrived early and grew increasingly emotional about leaving the child to go into contact with the Father. We reassured her this was what was best for her child, and she slowly agreed. We watched as the Father nervously approached his child, and slowly introduced toys and games to ease the tension. The child played happily but didn’t speak a word. We see this often at VOC, so we weren’t too worried. We encouraged Dad to keep trying, so he showed his child some old photographs and we remember seeing a couple of smiles! This was progress nonetheless.
Despite this, during the next time of contact, the child refused to leave their Mother and was crying uncontrollably. We decided to call off contact that day because the child was in clear distress, and we always focus on the child’s needs before others.
A while after, we arranged for the Father to be placed in a contact room that was connected to another room where the child’s Mother was. This time, the Father had brought along his own Mother for moral support, as she had developed a strong relationship with the child. When the Mother and child arrived, we explained the room set up to them, and that their child could choose to go between each room as they pleased. This system worked well and the Father was able to engage well with his child. We watched as they played games and chatted away merrily, and smiled as we saw the little one occasionally poke his head around the door to check Mum was still there. This little bit of reassurance was all the child needed to feel comfortable around their Father again.
Following this form of contact, we put a plan in place to slowly remove the Mother from the situation to allow the Father and his child to rebuild the trust in their relationship in a secure and stable space. This was a great success, and the family has now completed four sessions with us in this capacity. We are extremely hopeful for the future of the Martell family and hope we can continue to do everything we can to help them.