If you are engaged in work that is looking vulnerable to belt tightening and budget cuts it may not seem as if the situation on the ground is improving as we embark on a new year. Indeed, the notion of a “new year” can seem pretty artificial if your timescales are built around tax years or funding applications. Nevertheless, for me at least, the end of one year and the start of the new meant parties and that proved an interesting experience in a way I never would have predicted in the past.
With the rich mix of a relationship storyline in The Archers that has been looking like coercive control since day one, and a storyline about child to parent violence in Coronation Street, it is suddenly OK to talk about domestic violence at parties! So I had the rather surreal experience of sitting with glass in hand talking about Helen’s relationship with Rob as if it was real (which of course it is if you’re an Archers fan), followed by listening to two groups of friends discussing their own experiences of abuse from pre-teen children and steps they were taking to address the issue. Perhaps it’s the parties I go to, and I’ll grant you it doesn’t sound very exciting! You have to picture the decorations, the food, imagine the music; these were conversations in little huddles competing with the noise. But the fact that they were happening was a moving experience and one that must be in part due to the immense media coverage over the last year that has brought these two issues to greater public consciousness.
So I look forward to 2016 with brave new hopes and expectations: that the public consciousness of child to parent violence will continue to grow, that our understanding of the issues involved will be refined, and of course that the development of services to support families will continue to grow – and also, that it will become more and more OK to talk about it at parties.