I often reflect on how far we have come in the UK in terms of speaking out about child to parent violence and abuse. It is too easy to live in a bubble and assume that the willingness to talk about the issue, and the development of a response is something that has happened world wide, but there are many places – even close to home – where stigma and fear prevent parents from speaking out, and where an absence of academic research leaves a hole in national awareness, and ultimately in support for families.
Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Hilde van Mieghem, who has directed a number of TV documentaries in Belgium about violence within families between partners, and from parent to child – and now wants to explore violence and abuse from children towards their parents, in conjunction with Borgerhoff & Lamberigts TV. Her work is unusual in that she is not particularly interested in hearing the “what” and “when”, or in sensationalising the story, but rather focusses on the effect the abuse has on the individual, and their search for help: what feelings were aroused, the psychological impact, how people responded, how easy (or hard) it was to find help. The previous series were well received within Belgium and prompted many individuals to come forward who had not previously thought about their experiences as abusive or who had been too ashamed or afraid to seek support. They sparked parliamentary discussion, led to the establishment of new training courses for social workers and care givers, and encouraged the development of peer groups and awareness and prevention campaigns.
Within Britain we have a number of individuals who have been prepared to speak publicly about their personal experiences whether for training purposes or in the wider media gaze, campaigning for better support as well as to bring hope to other families. In making this latest series, the company hope that Belgian families will be prepared to speak anonymously about the impact of the abuse they experience, but they want to juxtapose this with the experiences of families from other nations where the issue is addressed more openly – specifically to highlight the stigma and taboo still prevalent in that country. So yes – this is going where you thought it might be!
If you are interested in learning more about this project, with a view to being interviewed on camera, please let me know and I can pass on your details to the production company. The company very much hope to speak with parents, but if there are also young adults who have moved through this and wish to speak they would like to include them too where appropriate.
“We’re looking for people that have gone through a process of self-reflection and evaluation (maybe therapy?) in order to look back at what has happened with the needed clearness and calmness of mind.”
Obviously there are concerns about finding help for viewers who might respond following the programmes airing. I am assured that the company have given thought to where help might be available, though clearly the hope is that this will be a spring board for the development of bespoke support in the future.
I will post more details as I have them. Thank you.