Domestic and family violence and co-occurring mental health issues and addictions

Mrs Bronwyn Morris
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Like Mental Health.

The plight of mothers as mentioned in the article entitled Domestic and family violence and co-occurring mental health issues and addictions: common stories in a reinforcing social system became evident during my 18- years working in a psychiatric dual diagnosis recovery centre in Queensland, Australia.  My roles in the centre progressed during this time from a live in mental health worker and support worker to in the last four years the managing director.

Bronwyn Morris

The article reflects my concern and observations for the need for more robust and sustainable service delivery responses which acknowledge the complexity of need for the mothers and their children who have experienced domestic and family violence. The abstract excerpt from a following yet to be published article below highlights further the benefits to sustainable recovery and prevention of “more intensive trauma-informed, family-based, (parallel mother/child/ren) residential therapeutic community treatment models”.

“Domestic and family violence for mothers with co-occurring mental illness and addiction has become a so-called ‘perfect storm’ of powerlessness and arguably a social epidemic. Yet there are few avenues for women with their children where the complex cycles associated with these issues can be resolved in sustainable ways”.

As with my first article I continue to explore the experiences of “mother’s over an 18-year period in a dual diagnosis residential centre where they were required to relinquish their children while in recovery. It is argued that relinquishing their children however, is used by social systems, estranged families and violent partners to further attribute blame and disempower the mother as she is faced with the threat of loss of her motherhood role”.

Following from the original article I “propose” in more detail “a dual diagnosis residential recovery centre for mothers with their children where repair recovery and prevention are more probable as the mother role is preserved.  Specific to the proposed model is an enriched environment that provides for the recovery needs of mothers, her children and their attachment repair. The phase based model is completed only with transitional support that ensures generational empowerment, freedom from violence   and social wellbeing for mothers, their children and extended family members[1].

[1] Morris. B. (2016). Breaking the cycles: A dual diagnosis residential service model for mothers with their children, who have experienced domestic and family violence with co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. Manuscript in preparation.


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