Children and Teen Advocates (County)
The Children and Teen Advocates who operate in the county, otherwise known as the CAT team work with children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse within Nottinghamshire County. We work in the Boroughs of Ashfield, Rushcliffe, Broxtowe, and Gedling and there are five members of our team, four advocates and a team leader.
In 2018, the team worked with 264 individual children and young people aged 5-16 who had witnessed abuse take place in their family, often where mum is the survivor. The children we support have frequently seen traumatic scenes and witnessed physical violence and emotional and psychological harm.
The children we support have gone through a range of experiences due to the abuse that happened within the home including providing evidence at court, being removed from home, seeing a parent imprisoned, struggling with child contact arrangements, bedwetting, nightmares, self-harming, lack of attainment and attendance at school and even suicidal ideation.
The CAT team support children to talk about their feelings and have their story listened to, to understand they are not to blame, to be taught about what a healthy relationship should like and how to keep safe. We work with children for between 6-12 weeks depending on their support needs and situation. The support work can either be done as 1-1 support that takes place weekly for around an hour in a safe space such as school or within a therapeutic group setting, again often within a school or community setting.
In addition to the support for children and young people the CAT team also support teenagers 13-17 who are experiencing domestic abuse themselves; often in their own intimate relationships, but also within more complex scenarios such as sibling and parental abuse, Honour Based Violence, CSE and gangs.
The Teen Advocate role supports young survivors with housing, criminal and civil court matters, sexual health, mental health, drug and alcohol issues and education. It is a specialised service that supports survivors both male and female although the majority of the cases are of young women, many of whom are identified as high-risk and most of these high-risk women have been sexually assaulted and/or raped.