I have been privileged to interview a number of researchers and practitioners for this blog, and am pleased today to be able to bring you this interview with Jane Evans.
I first met Jane on twitter, and then caught up with her properly at a conference on Adolescent Violence to Parents in Oxford last September. I knew her at that time for her work in the field of parenting, and specifically post-domestic violence: encouraging a greater awareness of the needs of children to be raised with kindness and compassion. Jane works as an independent trauma parenting specialist and trainer, and has won many plaudits for her book “How are you feeling today Baby Bear?” designed to help young children who have been living in ‘a stormy house’ explore their feelings.
Recently Jane’s work has broadened out to include the field of parent abuse; and I was interested to hear how she had made this transition.
How did you first become aware of the issue of parent abuse?
When I was working for Survive in South Gloucestershire, a voluntary sector domestic abuse organisation as their parenting worker, I became increasingly aware of referrals and requests for support from parents who were experiencing violence and threatening behaviour from their children. It sparked some interesting and complex debates around the similarities between domestic abuse as intimate partner violence, and the behaviour of the young people being referred for a service, as it was not clear how to address it under the umbrella of domestic abuse organisation for women and children.
After attending the presentation at Oxford University I became even more curious about parent abuse and not long afterwards I was approached by Wish for a Brighter Future to undertake some work with them which started in January 2014.
How do you see this building on the work you were already involved in?
For the past 20 years I have worked in a range of settings with families with complex needs who have lived through and with a range of trauma and as a respite foster carer I had direct experience of living with traumatised children. During this time I have developed an unwavering curiosity about the effects of the trauma. This has led me to read extensively on brain development, attachment and the impact of trauma which I relate directly to my work with families.
Do you draw from a particular approach or theoretical background?
My work is based upon the findings of Bruce Perry, Daniel Siegel, Graham Music, Gabor Mate, Bessel van der Kolk, Kate Cairns, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott, Margaret Ainsworth and many others I have been fortunate to study and hear speak. I draw upon attachment theory at every level and the latest neuroscience but after 9 years of studying I always feel I am just beginning!
What have you found to be some of the key issues?
In adolescent to parent abuse I have found the key issues to be:
- A history of extensive domestic violence
- Substance dependency
- Mental health problems
- Fractured family life
- Trauma and attachment difficulties
- School exclusions or non-attendance
Apart from your work with Wish, how else are you involved?
As well as my work with Wish for a Brighter Future in Bristol, I also deliver training on how parenting is impacted by trauma, such as domestic abuse, how to support children who have experienced early childhood trauma, understanding and supporting adolescent to parent abuse and I am an Associate Trainer for AVA, CAADA, David Niven Associates and PEYTU.
I speak, write and run workshops on how children, parenting and young people are impacted by early childhood trauma, what it looks like and how to support the effects of it.
I am also the author of How are you feeling today Baby Bear? a book created for young children who have lived with domestic violence which supports them in finding names for their feelings.
Would you like to tell us about the latest conference you have organised?
As part of my work with Wish I have organised a conference in Bristol on 25th September to explore similarities and differences between domestic abuse and parental abuse as this seems to be emerging and complex issues for many agencies and professionals.
It will feature the research by Dr. Amanda Holt author of the critically-acclaimed book, Adolescent-to-Parent Abuse: Current Understandings in Research, Policy and Practice (Policy Press, 2013).
I will also be presenting on my direct work with families and the approach I have been using with them. There will be a conference wide debate to share practice and explore the complex issue of adolescent to parent abuse together, with input from a panel of experts. Places are still available
What other projects do you have on the horizon?
In 2015 I have a new book coming out for young children who need support to have their emotional needs met. I have also started work on a book to support those raising children which will have a unique approach and be easy to pick up and use on the run!
I will be developing and rolling out my parenting programme, Tuning In Beyond Trauma, for those impacted by trauma, or raising children who are, in 2015 with training for facilitators as well.
I am speaking at a range of conferences throughout the UK for the rest of 2014 and am delivering training in London, Bristol and Barnsley over the next few months.
Anything else you’d like to say?
It was such a pleasure to meet you Helen in Oxford and on Twitter as you have been a real inspiration in my work in APV, thank you.