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Community Group Program for Children and Mothers’ Exposed to Woman Abuse


Delivery Approach:
  • Group
Delivery Format:
  • In-Person
Provider Requirements:
  • DV/SA Advocate Led
  • Other Provider Requirements (see Program Details)
Type of Experience Addressed:
  • Domestic Violence
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse
Engagement Methods:
  • Talk-Based
Level of Intervention:
  • Intervention
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Greater than 12 weeks
  • Correctional
  • Domestic Violence Shelter
  • Community Based Settings
  • Residential
  • Foster Care
  • Family Service Agencies
  • Mental Health Settings
  • Other Settings (see Program Details)
Program Details:
Type of services:

Inter-agency collaborative model that provides group treatment for mothers and children exposed to domestic violence.

Program setting:

Secure settings in the community at member agencies including child protection services, children’s mental health centers, preventative services for young children and their families, women’s shelters, second-stage housing sites for women and children who have left abusive relationships, and youth detention centers.

Type of provider:

Program coordinator works with group co-facilitators from diverse member agencies.

Length of program:

12 weeks

Type(s) of trauma addressed:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the effects of domestic violence on children

Additional Information:

Mother and child groups are conducted concurrently. Clients are self-referred, and there is no cost for mothers and children. Children’s groups focus on:

  • Increasing the participants’ adaptive functioning and reducing social-behavioral problems associated with witnessing violence
  • Creating sufficient change to prevent violence in child’s future
  • Ensuring children learn safety skills

Topics addressed during group sessions include:

  • Definitions and language to describe violence
  • Recognizing, understanding, and communicating feelings
  • Talking about violence in families
  • Anger and conflict resolution
  • Responsibility for violence and myths about family violence
  • Safety planning
  • Dating violence or sexual abuse prevention depending on child’s age
  • Self-esteem

Unique/Innovative Characteristics

Community-based program for mothers and children exposed to domestic violence that has been in operation for over 20 years.

Date Added/Updated:


Population Served

  • 0-5 (Early Childhood)
  • 6-12 (Childhood)
  • 13-17 (Adolescent)
Population Language:
  • English
  • French
  • Sign Language
Ethnic Racial Group:
  • Unspecified Ethnic Racial Group
  • Child
  • Child and Non-abusive Parent/Caregiver
  • Survivor parent
Population Adaptations:
Age range of children:

4 to 16 years; teen groups are gender-specific

Parent/adult caregiver included in intervention:

Yes. Non-offending parent (natural mothers only).

Languages available:

English and French (interpreters provided when required for both children and mothers; sign language providers are utilized when required).


Theoretical basis:

This intervention is grounded in feminist analysis of woman abuse, cultural relational theory, and trauma theory.

Evaluation Studies:

Quantitative and qualitative evaluation (17 women and 14 children) was conducted in 2009 by Dr. Susan Rodger. Preliminary analysis of pre-group and post-group scores from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) revealed significant differences (P <.05) including:

  • Decreases in children’s scores on externalizing and internalizing dimensions, behavioral problems and attention problems scale
  • Increases on the prosocial behaviors scale

Preliminary analysis of interview data also indicated efficacy of the program. Both mothers and children described improvements in their daily lives.

Rodger SC. Evaluation of the Community Group Program for Children Exposed to Women Abuse, Preliminary Report, Summary. Unpublished manuscript. Contact

Suderman et al. (2000) conducted a pre-group and post-group comparison of mother’s and children’s groups (31 children ranging in age from 7 to 15 years old). Comparison of the pre- and post- scores indicated:

  • Prior to the intervention, 55% of children replied false to the statement that “sometimes children are the cause of their parents abusive behavior/fights” compared to 84% after the intervention
  • Prior to the intervention, 59% of children replied that they would try to stop a fight between their parents compared to 10% after the intervention (and recognized that their first priority was to keep themselves safe)
  • 74% of mothers/caregivers reported positive changes in their child as a result of the intervention; changes reported included less violence against siblings, listening better, and the child not being as frustrated
  • A majority of children (60.7%) indicated that they were highly satisfied with the groups
  • 92% of children indicated that they would recommend the group to a friend who had violence problems in his or her family


Suderman M, Marshall L, Loosely S. Evaluation of the London (Ontario) Community Group Treatment Programme for Children Who Have Witnessed Woman Abuse. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. 2000; 3(1):127-146.

Other Publications:

Smith, Carrie. Community Group Program for Children Exposed to Woman Abuse: Participant Feedback Executive Summary, 2009. Children’s Aid Society.

Group work with Children Exposed to Woman Abuse by Loosely, Drouillard, Ritchie and Abercromby, 2006: Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, Ontario, Canada. Available at

Program replication:

Edinburgh, Scotland Cedar Project, Dr. Cathy Sharp, Scottish Women’s Aid

Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:

This intervention was not rated by the registries/databases we reviewed.

Training & Resources

Training Language:
  • English
Training Availability:
  • Yes
Training Details:
Training manuals:


Loosely S. Groupwork with Children Exposed to Women Abuse: A Concurrent Work Group for Children and Their Mothers: Children’s Program Manual.

Paddon M. Groupwork with Mothers Exposed to Women Abuse: A Concurrent Work Group for Children and Their Mothers: Mothers’ Program Manual.

Order at or by contacting Susan Abercromby 519 455-9000 ext. 322


In person training, English only. Interpreters have been utilized. Group manual has been translated into French.

Training Contact:

Susan Abercromby


Program Contact

1680 Oxford Street
East London, Ontario, Canada N5Y 5R8
519-455-9000 ext. 322