Abuse after Separation by Rebekah Wilson. 26.11.2020 

If we had £1 for every time we’ve heard or read “why doesn’t she just leave” we would need no other means of fundraising.  Whilst many people presume leaving a relationship will be the end of the abuse, in many cases that simply doesn’t happen.  In some cases the abuse escalates. 

The Femicide Census* was published yesterday and, out of the women whose lives have been taken by partners or former partners in the last 10 years, 43%, 378 women, had in fact separated or made arrangements to separate.  89% of them were murdered in the first year after separation.

If you’re planning on leaving an abusive relationship, you can get advice and support from a Domestic Abuse Service to ensure that you have a plan for leaving and a plan for staying safe once you’ve left.  Many of course can leave the relationship safely and embark on a new life without intrusion from their ex-partner. However, for some people, particularly if there are children involved, it can take many years.

The decision to end the relationship can cause the abuser to feel as though they have completely lost control of their partner and any children, and lead them to behave in intense and persistent ways to try and regain that control.  These behaviours can consist of emotional manipulation, promises to change and a return to good times, begging for your return and forgiveness or gift giving. Behaviours can also manifest as stalking and/or harassment, such as numerous telephone calls, text messages, turning up where they know you’ll be, notes through the door, threats to you, the children or your family members, attending your place of work or employing surveillance techniques (trackers, asking neighbours, friends etc.).  This can often make a survivor feel that they are safer in the relationship where they can at least gauge the abuser’s mood.

Stalking and harassment legislation dictates that it is the fear of the victim or survivor that is the important issue.  Even if you’re told that their behaviours are innocent or non-harmful, if they put you in fear, you should seek support and report to the police if you feel able to.  Domestic Abuse Services can support you with making reports to police.

Many perpetrators often can seek to regain control through the Family Court, making repeat applications for contact, enforcement, specific issues etc.  Even if they have shown little interest in the children either before or after separation.  Some perpetrators use contact with children to question them about the other parents movements and “keep tabs” on your life, placing the children in the middle of the conflict to the detriment of their emotional health and wellbeing.

If you have left, or are considering leaving an abusive relationship, and are concerned in any way about the abusers continuing behaviour, please call or email us for advice or support.

* The full report can be read here

A Tale of Two Refuges in Lockdown by Rebekah Wilson. 6.4.2020

Living or working in a refuge can often feel like quite an insular experience.  By the very nature of them, they are at secret locations and visitors are kept to an absolute minimum.  Usually however, we all have the sounds of the world going on outside our windows, all the families chattering in the courtyard & kitchens, children fussing about putting on their uniforms….all the sounds of life in general. 

In the best interests of our residents and staff we are trying to have as little face to face contact as is possible, but ours is not a service that can simply stop.  We are continuing to provide our families with support around housing, schools, benefits, police and courts because their lives, like many others, cannot be on hold – many have had their lives on hold for years already.

Emotional support is always critical for the families we work with and has become even more vital during this time.  When they are hundreds of miles away from friends and family there can be no visit to the bottom of mum’s garden path nor Grandma’s coming to check on her grandchildren through the window.  This is a struggle for our residents at the best of times, now however, in a strange place, unfamiliar surroundings, with little other human contact and limited encouragement from their fellow residents, our role in keeping spirits up and positive thinking alive is essential.

Whilst the staff continue to do this, the staff’s support network has reduced.  Social distancing measures mean that where we are used to being part of a large team across both refuges and The Wish Centre, now there are only two of us working at each refuge at any one time.  The Wish Centre is silent as all the staff are working from home.  As are many key workers across the country, we are missing our peers – they are our sounding boards, our agony aunts and our friends.

One great positive this week has been the assistance one of our most vulnerable residents has received from Blackburn’s COVID-19 Hub.  The referral process was easy and the staff and volunteers there have been wonderful, delivering the family food and hot meals.  Some of our residents don’t yet have their incomes in place since moving here, therefore one of the aims this week will be sourcing some food items for those who can’t purchase it…..have you noticed how quickly children are getting through snacks at the moment!

To end on a bright note – we have Easter Eggs!  Donated by the wonderful St Mary’s Catholic Church, Brownedge, Bamber Bridge.  The Easter Bunny, being a key worker himself, will of course be delivering, and leaving them on doorsteps this year.  

There's Nothing Funny to See Here by Rebekah Wilson.  31.3.2020

As a service, we made the decision not to share or make comment on a recent video made by boxer, Billy Joe Saunders, on our social media.  Not because we wanted to hide it, but because we didn’t want to give him the publicity, nor give anyone else an opportunity to use it as a twisted instruction manual.  Now however, his license has been suspended by the British Boxing Board and there have been consequences to his frankly appalling and dangerous actions, we feel we want to address it.

Saunders stated he was “joking” and did it to “take the heat off” the Covid-19 pandemic.  We need the world to know that domestic abuse is never a joke.  Need for domestic abuse services has grown by 80% in the last 10 years.  This years Femicide Census revealed the highest number of women killed by men since the census began.  62% of children living in an abusive household are harmed directly with 90% of children being witness to abuse between their parents.  All these alarming figures were recorded before the unprecedented position we now find ourselves in as a country.  Houses in lockdown, movements restricted and in the constant company of our partners; a situation many perpetrators have been trying to recreate in their own homes for years has suddenly been handed to them on a plate.  We are not questioning the government’s actions, we are asking that everyone be more aware of those for whom this situation is dangerous, and potentially life threatening.  Agencies operating in this area of work are fearing a pandemic within a pandemic.

Since lockdown began there have been 9 deaths potentially related to domestic abuse.  2 women murdered and their husbands arrested, 2 whole family wipeouts.  Is any of that remotely funny? One of the women’s three young children likely witnessed her violent death.  Is that amusing?  Even after apologizing and pledging £25000 to domestic abuse charities he added that he understands his sense of humour is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Whilst £25000 will go a little way to relieving what is a huge financial responsibility for domestic abuse charities, what we would like to see is Saunders and others who trivialize it, change their attitude towards domestic abuse.  We’d like to see a genuine realization that it is a very real, terrifying part of millions of lives.  That it is destructive to victims and children’s mental health and wellbeing, potentially for the rest of their lives.  That it is life altering, often, sadly, deadly and that our current situation is raising the risk.  There’s nothing at all funny to see here. 

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