Dr Neha Sharma

Impact of Breathe-free program on psychological wellbeing of children witnessed family violence.

Neha Sharma1,3, Amanda Owen2, Shekhar Sharma3, Pratibha Mistry1

1Yog-Kulam, UK, 2Bespoke Yoga, Australia, 3NMP Medical Research Institute, India



The devastating impact of domestic violence on women are well documented but far less on children who witness a parent or caregiver being subjected to violence. Findings show long lasting and serious impact on children who are exposed to violence in the home. These children more likely to be victims of child abuse, suffer from behavioural and psychological problems, may have difficulty learning and limited social skills, exhibit violent, risky or delinquent behavior, or suffer from depression or severe anxiety.  Interventions to support children who are exposed to domestic violence are very much needed in managing present symptoms and minimizing the long-term harm. Previously, programs were deigned to address the needs of these children through training staff who work with children to detect early warning signs and to provide appropriate responses and support. Present study evaluates the Breathe free program, designed to enhance the wellbeing for survivors of domestic violence. It was based on ancient yoga and Vedic healing practices used to improve physical, mental, emotional health of survivors along with self-esteem and confidence.


This study documents the preliminary evaluation of a 12-session group intervention designed to address the needs of children exposed to domestic violence. Children aged 6-12 years were included in the study from three welfare center, NMP medical research institute, India. The primary outcome was depression, anxiety and fear. Secondary outcome measures were guilt/shame and self-esteem.  All the assessments were conducted at baseline, 4, 8, and 12 weeks.


At 8 weeks, depressive symptoms were reduced by 65%. Statistically significant improvements were observed in all outcomes at 12 weeks post‐intervention. Self-esteem and confidence were improved, so does the school attendance at the end of the program.


With a small sample and other limitations, the program offers a promising framework for intervention with children exposed to domestic violence. Further research is needed with larger sample size and trial designs.


Key words: Breathe free program, yoga intervention, Psychological health, children, domestic violence



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