By Rebecca Martorella, LMFT, Program Manager IPV-FAIR
April 1, 2017 – We meet the mothers in their homes. Often caring for multiple children with little support, fathers absent or recently removed from the household due to restraining orders placed after a domestic violence incident. We meet the fathers, often temporarily homeless, missing their families, confused about how their actions got them arrested or removed because they were the same actions they had seen in families their whole lives.
We hear their stories, including traumatic childhoods and a lack of parenting, which left them with no model of healthy relationships to pass on to their own children. How can a parent know how to parent lovingly when they have been parented with domination and control? How can a partner know how to communicate lovingly and resolve disagreements when they have only seen screaming and force?
We teach them that screaming, and fighting, and physical altercations are not “just how relationships are.” We teach them that domestic violence is not just physical, that emotional and financial control are forms of domestic abuse as well, invisible but even more harmful. We teach them how the abusive environment affects their children and perpetuates a cycle of unhealthy relationship choices and violence. We teach them how to identify and communicate their feelings without risking ridicule and rejection, and we teach them how to avoid responding with ridicule and rejection themselves.
We connect them to services they may not have been able to access themselves. The basics: Housing, food, clothing. Then we help them learn to take back power over their own lives. Education, job training, daycare, financial support. We help them see not only that there are other choices, but that those choices are accessible to them.
We help them recognize the trauma in their past that has led to the crises in their present. We help them identify their triggers and learn new coping skills so that they can end the legacy of this trauma in their future, with their children.
Family ReEntry and IPV-FAIR. Helping give parents a second chance to give their children the best first chance.
Rebecca Martorella, MA, LMFT is the Program Manager for the new IPV-FAIR program at Family ReEntry, in which clinicians and case workers take a team approach to helping families referred by the Department of Children & Families to understand the impact of domestic violence and learn healthy relationship, coping, and co-parenting skills to create a healthier home for their children. Rebecca received her BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University and worked as an advertising executive for over a decade before earning her MA in Marriage & Family Therapy from Fairfield University in 2005. She has worked as a therapist with individuals, couples, and families in private practice and agency settings, including facilitating domestic violence education groups for Family ReEntry for 8+ years. Outside of Family ReEntry, she writes a column on family issues for the Darien Times and volunteers as the Communications Director for the Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, chartering organization for the Darien Boy Scout program. Rebecca can be reached at [email protected].