Breaking the Cycle

Breaking the Cycle is a group program for mothers whose adolescents are behaving in violent or abusive ways. Anglicare Victoria developed this program in response to the increasing number of referrals from mothers whose sons and/or daughters were behaving violently or abusively in the home. Mothers described behaviour such as spitting, kicking, pushing against walls, breaking windows and furniture. Threats and intimidation were common, as well as verbal abuse and stealing.

Based on the positive outcome of group programs to assist women who had survived domestic violence from their partners, it was thought that group work would be a powerful way to break the silence and the isolation that surrounds this aspect of family violence. The group work program is one of a range of responses offered which includes both family and individual counselling. The women are able to share their ideas, and reflections, and offer each other support and encouragement.

As part of our research into the area of young people’s violence at home, we interviewed six women, who had participated in three different groups. They come from different backgrounds and family situations so their stories are rich and varied, and too valuable to be hidden away. These women very generously agreed to share their ideas, experiences, insights, struggles and successes in the hope that it would assist other women and their families find ways to help their sons or daughters become responsible for their behaviour.

Thank you, *Marg, Janet. Anna, Sue, Sally and Lynne for the significant contribution of commitment, good will, time and energy that you have put into sharing your stories.

Your determination to ensure that violence is stopped inspires and strengthens us all. *All identifying data has been changed to ensure confidentiality.

*All identifying data has been changed to ensure confidentiality.

Some young people develop the idea that they are entitled to get what they want even when this means using violence and/or abuse to intimidate or control members of their families. The violence or abuse is most frequently targeted at mothers although younger siblings may be victimised too.

Often it is the mother who recognises that there is a serious problem and seeks help to find solutions. It is common that both the adolescent and other family members blame the mother and they are not interested in seeking assistance for themselves. The mother may feel guilty, shamed and isolated and find it difficult to talk about the problem with anyone.  She can feel that ‘she is walking on eggshells’ as she considers how to handle the situation.

For many women, the dilemma they face is that as parents they have a responsibility to continue caring for their adolescent. They are aware that their son or daughter may have experienced illness or disability, witnessed or be survivors of violence or abuse, have low self-esteem or have suffered significant loss or grief. However, they also recognise that violence creates more problems. It can be difficult and frightening to take a stand and hold the young person responsible for their behaviour. They have concerns that the violence will escalate or that their relationship with their son or daughter will be severed. Calling the police or asking the young person to leave prematurely are last resorts that mothers hope they will never have to consider.

We will be sharing these inspiring stories of strength over the coming weeks, to shed a light on this violence.


Breaking the cycle is an 8 week therapeutic group work program 

Enquiries and Referrals (Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm)

Meridian Intake

Ph: 9896 6322


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