Saturday, 28 February 2009

Women do not need to be rescued..........

Women do not need to be rescued or saved by men.
What is needed, however, is for men not to be violent or abusive.

When men end the abuse,
safety will take care of itself

Paula Butteriss

Friday, 4 May 2007


As an ex-Samaritan, I offer free & confidential one-to-one support. Whilst I will not even try to tell people what I think they should do, or when, ( the answers are all there, in their own hearts), I will certainly listen without judgement, and help them accept the reality of what is happening (reducing feelings of isolation), and tailor make a network of local support, whatever the location- plus share the tools to find a way out from the darkness. I have gathered along the way a wealth of credible resources, experienced professional contacts, recommended readings plus advice on how to keep you and your children safe in an emergency. This website, will be updated as I go along, and it just a starting point, but in the meantime............ you can reach me direcly on
I feel very incredibly strongly about breaking the silence that surrounds Emotional Abuse and Domestic Violence. I have gained an insight into the emotional vulnerability created and want to support people through this and help them take back their own identity and use their strength and re find inner courage to cope. I fully understand the complications of living within this situation, being financially dependant, whilst having children to support and protect. There ARE solutions, options and choices. Research clearly shows a typical pattern of abuse. It usually does not start until you are dependant, emotionally, financially, usually living with the abuser... it often takes years before it starts. You just DON'T see it coming. I will include a 'red-flag' check list on B.T.S, to help if you are wondering at earlier stages of a relationship if abuse might be lurking in the background.
LISTEN to your instincts. If you, or somebody you know are suffering in silence, please feel welcome to contact me.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

What is domestic violence?

There are a number of different definitions of domestic violence. In Women's Aid's view, domestic violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour' crimes. Domestic violence often includes a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are, in themselves, inherently 'violent' - hence some people prefer to use the term 'domestic abuse' rather than 'domestic violence'.

Domestic violence is very common: research shows that it affects one in four women in their lifetime. Two women a week are killed by their partners or former partners. All forms of domestic violence - psychological, financial, emotional and physical - come from the abuser's desire for power and control over an intimate partner or other family members. Domestic violence is repetitive and life-threatening, it tends to worsen over time and it destroys the lives of women and children.

Crime statistics and research show that domestic violence is gender specific - that is, it is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men, particularly when there is a pattern of repeated and serious physical assaults, or when it includes rape or sexual assault or results in injury or death. Men can also experience violence from their partners (both within gay and straight relationships); however women's violence towards men is often an attempt at self defence, and is only rarely part of a consistent pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour. For this reason, we will generally refer to the abuser as 'he' and to the survivor as 'she'. See also Women and men, victims and survivors

Domestic violence also has an enormous effect on the children in the family. Nearly three-quarters of children considered 'at risk' by Social Services are living in households where one of their parents/carers is abusing the other. A high proportion of these children are themselves being abused - either physically or sexually - by the same perpetrator. (Estimates vary between 30% to 66% depending upon the study.) See Children and domestic violence for more information.

Any woman can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. Domestic violence can also take place in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships. Domestic violence can also be perpetrated by other family members (for example, extended family). In some cases, older children - teenagers or young adults - are violent or abusive towards their mothers or other family members. (See 'When children become aggressive' in the Children and domestic violence section of this handbook.)

Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship.
Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
Pressure tactics: sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnecting the telephone, taking the car away, taking the children away, or reporting you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands; threatening or attempting suicide; withholding or pressuring you to use drugs or other substances; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
Harassment: following you; checking up on you; not allowing you any privacy (for example, opening your mail), repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you; embarrassing you in public; accompanying you everywhere you go.
Threats: making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children; threatening to kill or harm family pets; threats of suicide.
Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don't want it; forcing you to look at pornographic material; forcing you to have sex with other people; any degrading treatment related to your sexuality or to whether you are lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
Physical violence: punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling.
Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen; saying you caused the abusive behaviour; being publicly gentle and patient; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.

Recognising domestic violence

Everyone has arguments, and everyone disagrees with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time. And we all do things at times that we regret, and which cause unhappiness to those we care about. But if this begins to form a consistent pattern, then it is an indication of domestic violence. The following questions may help you:
Has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your friends or family?
Has your partner prevented you from continuing or starting a college course, or from going to work?
Does your partner constantly check up on you or follow you?
Does your partner unjustly accuse you of flirting or of having affairs with others?
Does your partner constantly belittle or humiliate you, or regularly criticise or insult you in front of other people?
Are you ever afraid of your partner?
Have you ever changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you?
Has your partner ever destroyed any of your possessions deliberately?
Has your partner ever hurt or threatened you or your children?
Has your partner ever kept you short of money so you are unable to buy food and other necessary items for yourself and your children?
Has your partner ever forced you to do something that you really did not want to do?
Has your partner ever tried to prevent you from taking necessary medication, or seeking medical help when you felt you needed it?
Has your partner ever tried to control you by telling you you could be deported because of your immigration status?
Has your partner ever threatened to take your children away, or said he would refuse to let you take them with you, or even to see them, if you left him?
Has your partner ever forced you to have sex with him or with other people? Has he made you participate in sexual activities that you were uncomfortable with?
Has your partner ever tried to prevent your leaving the house?
Does your partner blame his use of alcohol or drugs for his behaviour?
Does your partner control your use of alcohol or drugs (for example, by forcing your intake or by withholding substances)?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this indicates that you may be experiencing domestic violence.

I am experiencing domestic violence. What can I do about it?

No one deserves to be abused, and you don't have to put up with it. There are a number of things you can do if you are experiencing violence and abuse from a partner or ex-partner. However, none of these will be easy and none will provide a complete or immediate end to the abuse.

Getting free from abuse is a long process: most women seek help from a number of sources, and may leave and return several times before they are able to make the final break.

One question that is often asked is: "Why didn't you leave?" or alternatively "Why did you stay so long?" If you haven't been in this situation yourself, leaving may seem the obvious answer. But there are all sorts of reasons why women stay with their abusers. It is also important to know that leaving does not always end the abuse - and sometimes, at least for a time, it may get worse.

Women stay with their abusers because they still love them or because they are terrified of the consequences. The abuser may threaten to harm or even kill his partner or the children if they leave. Women may worry about losing their children, or they may feel that it is best for the children if they stay and try to make their relationship work. They may be worried about practical issues: Where can they go? Will they make themselves homeless? Where will they get money? They may be worried about loneliness, particularly if their partners have isolated them from friends and family. Maybe their confidence has been undermined so badly that they believe they couldn't cope alone, and lack the confidence to leave.

Perhaps some of those reasons apply to you. But if you do decide you want to leave home and leave your abuser, there are some suggestions for dealing with the practical issues you will face in the following sections. For example, you could look at the sections on Where can I go? - Housing options and What is a refuge and how can I stay in one?. The sections on What can Women's Aid do for me? and Making a safety plan may also help you.

Legal options

Whether or not you decide you want to leave your partner, you have a right to be protected under the law, and there are a number of legal options open to you, under both the criminal law and the civil law. The two systems are separate and are administered by separate courts:
The civil law is primarily aimed at protection (or in some cases compensation). A survivor of domestic violence can make an application for an injunction (a court order) either to the Family Proceedings Court or the County Court (usually through her solicitor). Other family proceedings (such as child contact or divorce) also take place in the County Court.
The criminal law is primarily aimed at punishing the offender. The police together with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initiate the process. Criminal cases are heard in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court depending on the severity of the charge.
For further information, you could look at the sections on Getting an injunction and Police and the criminal prosecution process. Women's Aid also publishes a leaflet called 'Domestic violence: Your legal rights', which you can order using the Women's Aid Publications and Resources Order Form.

If you are in immediate danger always call the police, and always dial 999 if it is an emergency. They have a duty to protect and help you.

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline

If you want to talk through the different options, you could call the Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247.

The National Domestic Violence Helpline provides emotional and practical support, and information to women experiencing (or who have experienced) domestic abuse and to those seeking help on a woman's behalf. Helpline staff - all of whom are women - will discuss the available options and help you to make an informed choice. If it is appropriate, they may refer you to a refuge, or to outreach services and other sources of help and information. You won't be pushed into making any decision you are not happy with, nor will you be expected to take any steps you don't feel ready for. All calls are taken in the strictest of confidence, and are free of charge wherever you are in the country.

The Helpline is a member of Language Line and can provide access to an interpreter for callers who do not speak English. They can also access the BT Type Talk Service for deaf callers.

The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by fully trained Helpline support workers and volunteers. If all the lines are busy there is a voice mail system that enables callers to leave a message. The messages are checked at regular intervals throughout the day and all calls are returned, as long as it is safe to do so.

During the course of a call, the Helpline support worker will respond according to your needs. She may, for example:
Offer a supportive listening ear and (if appropriate) refer you to counselling services.
Refer you to a registered family law solicitor in your area.
Refer you to local, face-to-face support via the drop-in or outreach services provided by your local Women's Aid organisation or other domestic violence service.
Refer you (with your children if you have them) to emergency accommodation.
Send you a Women's Aid Information Pack, which includes leaflets covering a range of issues including 'Housing', 'Legal options', 'Myths about domestic violence', 'Risks to children', 'Health and domestic violence', and 'Breaking free'.
Women's Aid can also provide a help service by letter and email, so if you prefer, either you or someone else on your behalf can email: or write to Women's Aid, P.O. Box 391, Bristol, BS99 7WS.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you could instead call one of the following helplines:
Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 80 10 800.
Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 027 1234.
Northern Ireland Women's Aid 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 0800 917 1414.
There is also a national helpline specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence: call Broken Rainbow Helpline between 9am and 1pm and 2 - 5pm Monday to Friday: 08452 604460; minicom: 0207 231 3884. For further information on same sex domestic violence or on Broken Rainbow, see the section on Lesbian and bisexual women.

For further information on services and sources of support, please see Useful organisations.

What is a refuge and how can I stay in one?

A refuge is a safe house where women and children who are experiencing domestic violence can stay free from abuse. Refuge addresses (and sometimes telephone numbers) are confidential. There are over 500 refuge and support services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can choose to travel as far away from, or stay as near to, your home town as you wish (subject to space and availability).

Some refuges have space for many women and children, and some are small houses. Some refuges are specifically for women from particular ethnic or cultural backgrounds (for example, Black, Asian or South American women). Many refuges have disabled access and staff and volunteers who can assist women and children who have special needs.

If you have children, you can take them with you. There are some refuges that have self-contained family units but most refuges will usually give you your own room for yourself to share with your children. Other spaces (the living room, TV room, kitchen, playroom and possibly the bathroom) will be shared with other refuge residents. You will be expected to cook for yourself and your children. It is up to you and the other refuge residents whether or not you share cooking or eat together at mealtimes. You can be as self-contained or as sociable as you want to be.

You will be asked to sign a license agreement which will include the terms under which you can stay in the refuge, how long you can stay and any necessary rules to ensure the safety of yourself and other residents (for example, regarding the use of alcohol or drugs, confidentiality, visitors, etc.).

Refuges also have their own codes of conduct regarding the day-to-day running of the house. These usually cover things like bedtimes for children, incoming telephone calls and rotas for using the washing machine.

Who can go into a refuge?

Any woman who needs to escape from domestic violence or abuse can go into a refuge at any time. It does not matter whether or not you are married to or living with your abuser, or whether or not you have children.

How do I arrange refuge accommodation?

You can call the Freephone National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, which is run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, and which will find a refuge space for you if you want this. Many refuge organisations have public contact numbers, and if you want you can contact these yourself look in the telephone book for your local Women's Aid organisation or other domestic violence service. You can also contact refuge organisations through the Police, the Samaritans, social services or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

You should be able to go into a refuge on the day that you call. You cannot usually book accommodation in advance, nor will you always be able to find refuge space in the location of your choice.

If you decide you would like the Helpline to arrange refuge space for you, you will be asked for your name (you only have to give your first name if you prefer) and the ages of any children who are with you. You will need to give a telephone number on which you can be called back when accommodation has been found for you. This can be a telephone box, as long as it takes incoming calls, or a mobile phone, or it could be at a friend's house, a health centre or any other safe place where you are able wait for any return calls.

When refuge accommodation has been found for you, a member of staff or a volunteer from the organisation will discuss with you how you can get there. They may arrange to meet you at their office or somewhere else which is easy to find. If they do give you the address and the location of the refuge, it is important that you keep this information to yourself, and that you take care not to leave any of this information behind (thus enabling your location, or the address or telephone number of the refuge, to be traced).

What can I take with me to the refuge?

As a guide, try to take the following with you to the refuge:
Birth certificates for you and your children.
School and medical records, including the telephone numbers of the school and your GP or surgery.
Money, bankbooks, cheque book and credit and debit cards.
Keys for your house, car, and workplace.
Driving licence (if you have one) and car registration documents, if applicable.
Prescribed medication, and vitamin supplements.
Cards or payment books for Child Benefit and any other welfare benefits you are entitled to.
Passports (including passports for all your children if you have them), visas and work permits.
Copies of documents relating to your housing tenure, (for example, mortgage details or lease and rental agreements).
Current unpaid bills.
Insurance documents.
Address book.
Family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value.
Clothing and toiletries for you and your children.
Your children's favourite small toys.
Not all women will need all of these items, and there may be some items that you would need to take that have not been included in this list, but this is a general guide.

What can't I take with me to a refuge?

Most refuges do not have a large amount of storage space, so you are unlikely to be able to take large items such as furniture with you to the refuge. Also, refuges cannot generally take house pets. Some refuges are equipped to accommodate small animals such as fish, mice and other caged pets. Additionally, some refuge organisations have arrangements with local pet fostering schemes. Ask the staff for more information or see the section on Pets under Useful organisations.

You will usually be able to stay as long as you need to - from a couple of days to several months - though some refuges have a maximum length of stay. Many women stay in refuges for a break from the violence, a breathing space with time to think away from danger. Some women decide to return to their partners.

However long you decide to stay, you can be as sociable or as quiet as you want to. Should you want it, there is support and advice available, but no one at the refuge will make you do anything you don't want to do.

If I leave a refuge, can I go back?

Yes, in most cases. If you choose to leave the refuge but later need safe accommodation again, you and your children will be able to go back, either into the same or another refuge, depending on space and availability at the time you need it.

If you were asked to leave a refuge because you broke the terms of the license agreement, it may not be possible for you to return to the same house. You may be referred to refuge accommodation elsewhere, or another safe place will be found for you.

You can also use the refuge organisation for information, friendship and support when you are no longer a resident. Some Women's Aid organisations have outreach services, floating support or drop-in services that women and children who have left or have never gone into the refuge can use for support and contact.
What about my permanent housing situation?

You can return home from the refuge at any point. You may decide to return with an injunction. You may decide you want to be re-housed elsewhere. The choice is yours, and refuge workers will give you information about the various options in order to help you to decide what you want to do. They will also help you to get advice regarding joint property and mortgage agreements.
Do not agree to sign any documents relating to the tenancy or ownership of your home until you have taken legal advice.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

0808 2000 247 - Just one phone call away

National Domestic Violence Helpline

Run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge

0808 2000 247

Friday, 23 February 2007

Will your abuser change?

It is possible for an abuser to stop abusing but please remember it's rare.

Usually domestic violence gets worse over time.

It's natural to hope your partner will change, or the abuse will go awayThe first step for an abuser is to face the truth. They must admit their behaviour is unacceptable and take responsibility for his actions.
They must stop blaming you for what happens. Or alcohol, drugs, stress or unemployment. These are excuses for violence.
They must accept you have a right to live your life without being dominated and controlled.
They must learn to respect you.
They must recognise that violence is a choice.

Abusers have learned to use physical violence or emotional abuse to control their partner.

What they have learned can be unlearned.
Counselling of any kind will not work unless an abuser accepts the basic fact that their behaviour is about control. It is not the relationship that must change, but their behaviour.
There are perpetrator programmes for abusers who need help to change their behaviour

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

If you have to leave in a hurry

If you suspect you may need to leave your home urgently,
try and plan what you are going to do in advance.

Try and keep these documents and things somewhere safe

  • Money, including change for the phone
    Passports - Yours and your children
    Details of your bank accounts
    Important phone numbers / email addresses
    Reference numbers for your mortgage/insurance
    Medical cards & any medication needed by you and any children you are taking with you; Benefit books
    Drivers Licence & car documents
  • Spare set of house /car keys
    Birth/marriage certificates
    Change of clothes & baby essentials, nappies, bottle etc
  • Court orders
  • A few of the childrens favourite toys
  • Clothes for a few days

Keeping Safe

Keeping Safe
Leaving an abusive partner can be dangerous, and not everyone will want, or choose, to leave their relationship. This information may help you stay safe, and help you plan what you might do if you decide to leave.
*Prepare an escape plan for emergencies. Call a helpline in advance to get advice on what your options might be if you decide to leave in a hurry.
*See a doctor when you are injured. Consider keeping a record of violent incidents and photographing bruises and injuries in case you decide to prosecute in future.
*Call the police in an emergency and file a report about the violence.
*See a solicitor as soon as you can if you think you may need an injunction.
*Teach your children what to do in an emergency.
*Keep money for a payphone/taxi and ensure your mobile phone is charged and has credit
*If an episode of violence seems imminent, avoid rooms without doors to the outside.
*Think about whether there is a friend you trust who you could go to in an emergency.
*If you are not living with your abuser, make sure that all the door and window locks and lights (inside and out) work properly. Install an alarm if you can.
*Change your phone number if you are getting threatening calls.
*If your abuser may contact you at work, tell your boss and colleagues about the situation and ask them to call the police in an emergency.
*Your personnel officer or Union representative at work may be able to help you.
*If your abuser sends you abusive text messages, save them - they are useful evidence.
*Keep a bag packed with the things listed, hide it, keep it safe, or give it to a friend