With the Violence – What Actually Works?

Today our mum from Life on the Frontline is asking for your help.

A Problem Shared1

We seemed to have moved back into a time where Tall is being violent. We have been here before and managed to move away from it, however never fully and now the frequency with which violent episode occur is increasing.

He is violent toward myself and my husband by using aggressive language and actions. He’s also destructive to his surroundings, using objects and parts of furniture he has dismantled as weapons and missiles. We have asked for help on this matter for our Social Worker, who is very good but none comital on who to deal with it. She did give me some info on NVR which have read and I’m now hoping to book my husband and I on a course.

One of our biggest problems is that when I can see him going to this horrible place, I start to shake and I know he can see he has control of the situation. We do restrain him and hold him, to minimise damage and harm to himself and us but it is our own method we have devised, we have never been offered or received training.

My question is this, what has helped any other families in this situation. Be it therapy, courses, workshops, your own methods,anything. I’m so scared now he’s getting bigger that some one is going to get really hurt. 

6 thoughts on “With the Violence – What Actually Works?

  1. Rachel

    I think you have asked a really hard question ‘what works’. The nvr training has some good outcome data but more in relation to a support package. Think about joining the potatoe group which is a very lively experienced peer support group for adopters who face this on a daily basis. X

  2. Hushabyemountainblog

    Thanks for asking this question. It’s am important one, and it takes a lot to talk out about it. Our children are a bit smaller, but we do experience verbal and physical aggression. I found it scary, but I have coped by: telling myself that my child is scared and doesn’t want to hurt me; staying present; telling my child I can hear they are angry (not these words, but whatever is relevant so they can hear that I know they are angry); and reminding them that I love them. It usually escalates before it gets better (and I have to really hold on to the belief that I am not going to be hurt!), and feels like forever, but there is a turning point and the children then search out the different calm areas we have set up around the house (we have cuddle corners and calm chairs that have de-stressing toys and activities tucked into them). It feels like it is working as the episodes are getting shorter and the children are seeking calming strategies themselves more quickly. But it is very hard, and I am usually shaking and in need of a hug from my husband or a call to a friend to calm myself down. And I worry if their initial displays might get worse as they become older (bigger than me!), so this strategy might be harder to sustain. We had some theraplay and play therapy too, and that really helped all of us understand what is happening and share ways of helping the children, that the children are aware of too. We also pour on the praise when they manage feelings well. I have never had any safe restraining training, but have felt I could have done it especially when the children are angry near busy roads and are in flight mode. Thanks again for sharing, it helps to know that other people have these experiences, and that they are hard to live with.

  3. Sarah

    We have three adopted teenagers all of whom have episodes of violent behaviour. Older two have come through it, youngest (13) is most troublesome. Have tried various strategies…no one thing works all the time so need whole tool kit of things to try…..

    There is a point though at which I suspect your son (if like mine) is so ‘aroused’ nothing will help and you simply need to remove yourself. I know it goes against attachment teaching etc but I find being present when in that state just feeds the angst. I tell them I’ll be giving them a virtual hug downstairs/inside/in kitchen (where ever they’re not) and walk out usually followed by hurled items/ abusive words etc etc- suspect you know the scenario.

    I haven’t found shutting them out the house helpful…simply escalates….locking myself away …..just gives them a reason to break down door. I have phoned the police once….of course they were perfectly reasonable by the time they arrived and did terrify them- which realise isn’t ideal but we talked about: home being somewhere where everyone had to feel safe and as a mum I would do anything to ensure that would happen.

    Also find pre-empting the escalation helpful sometimes….’ Right shall we just jump to the bit where you loose it and throw something around because after that we can then get on and have a good day…..rather then spending hours working up to it’. They normally look as me as though I’m barking but stops them in their track and wander off ( to the usual abuse but at least it de escalates if they can connect with the predictability)

    Doesn’t always work and still have nightmare times. I get hit, kicked and threatened. I have to believe it will get better but also understand it might not- all I can do is try my hardest and know that I’ve given my best whilst making sure I walk away when feeling afraid.

    It is bad I know. Happy to chat if you’d like?

  4. Honeymummy

    Oh crikey, I wrote a response but the cat has just sat on my laptop and I lost the whole comment.
    I wish I could give you the answers (actually I really wish I could just give you a big hug). That sick feeling at the pit of your stomach and the panic that overwhelms you at the moment you can see something brewing or rapidly descending from Tall’s rage/distress, is so difficult – your own ‘fight, flight and freeze’ responses are kicking it and you want to be anywhere but there at that time but at the same time (and please understand I am only talking from my personal experience), your therapeutic parent switch is also being triggered and you want to do anything you can to protect him (as well as yourselves) from harm and the emotional and physical pain that is being witnessed/felt.
    Secondary Trauma is really difficult.
    It would be really hard for me to explain in a comment how we survive during a ‘episode’ but please email me or get in contact. If nothing else I can give you an understanding ear to offload onto, free of judgement (freeing yourself up to feel safe enough to be able to reflect yourself on what might help for you has been my biggest survival tool- in the years I have come up with some quite frankly crazy methods which for a short term worked but not knowing our boys, nobody would understand how it could be helpful to us all).
    Hugs xxxxxxxx

  5. Alison Jarman

    NVR really helps and/ but needs support and on going training. Reconciliation gestures within NVR framework have helped my 10 yr old son most. What I lack is the supportive network to help reinforce the priority rules/ precepts of no hurting and no breaking.
    Fishing and regular meet up w his friends are the one big incentives to his inner happiness at the moment.
    Me understanding trauma better is helping.
    Distraction still works well.
    We haven’t completely moved away from the destructive bouts and sometimes violence towards me erupts – less so now but it still simmers occasionally.
    Dyadic psychotherapy really helps ( Bridge Foundation Bristol).
    Being a lone adopter and part carerer for elderly mum makes the task v challenging.
    Belief and meditation are my bedrock.

  6. RachelB

    Thanks, as ever, for your honesty and for all the comments and suggestions.

    We’ve had times when we’ve faced this on a daily basis and we both fear for the future as Acorn gets bigger. (Luckily for us, he’s very small for his age.) I also get very scared in the moment that I’ll be badly hurt. I have been bruised and ached for days following an attack. Like Sarah, we’ve found we sometimes need to let him get on with it. Usually, we hold the door slightly ajar and reassure him that we’re still there until he calms down.

    I love the idea of pre-empting the escalation. I’m going to try that one…


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