The Domestic Abuse team here at BDAP has been very busy over the ’16 Days of Activism against gender violence’ which came to a close on the 10thDecember, during this time we:
- Promoted the White Ribbon Campaign –a campaign which asks males to pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. A number of staff at Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council signed the pledge boards that were in receptions at both councils.
- Promoted the Women’s Aid Child First Campaign– calling on the Government and family courts to ensure there are no further avoidable child deaths as a result of unsafe child contact with a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
- Updated the www.centralbeds.wpengine.com website with a number of blog posts, including a survivor’s story. There has been a significant increase in traffic to the website with 442 people visiting during the 16 days an increase of 2004% on last year.
- Held two Professional Networking Events, which included presentations from Bedfordshire Police and the IDVA service and market stalls with staff promoting local domestic abuse support services.
- Held a pub quiz and two bake sales in conjunction with the IDVA service (Victim Support) which raised £929.08; this money will be donated to local domestic abuse support services
- A domestic abuse safeguarding briefing was delivered to local GPs
- Two awareness sessions were delivered to staff on the Freedom Programme – a group support programme for females who are, or have been in a relationship with an abusive partner.
- Developed a social media presence for the team – we are now on Twitter and slowly increasing our followers – @bedsdv
- Displayed information stalls in Priory House reception & Bedford Borough Hall for the duration of the 16 daysLisa the Domestic Abuse Team Manager said “The aim of the 16 days campaign is to increase awareness of gender violence, so seeing such a large increase in traffic to our website is a brilliant result. I would like to say a big thank you to the Domestic Abuse Team for all their hard work on this campaign, to our partners and service providers who have supported us and to our colleagues who have supported the campaign. We have been overwhelmed by colleagues support in terms of attending our events, baking, contributing raffle prizes and for putting their hands in their pockets. All this support means that over £900 will be going to our local service providers to support victims and their children during the festive period”.During the 16 days the Government have been making announcements about how they are supporting local government to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls as part of their Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy. The overarching theme of this year’s activity is on their work to support victims and encourage early intervention. The Government’s plans are all summarised here in the VAWG-Newsletter-Winter-2016
My name is L and I wanted to write a short description of how Stotfold & District Children’s Centre and The Freedom Programme has been a massive aid to myself and my children over the last 6 months.
In February 2009 I met a man who I believed was good, honest and caring. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case as I started to realise quite early on in the relationship. He became paranoid and questioned everything I did, trying to control me.
I was naive and young and believed it was because he loved me. In July 2009 the first physical incident happened and I listened to his apologetic nature and went back to him within a couple of weeks and soon realised I was pregnant.
In April 2011 I had our second child. Throughout the first two years I didn’t believe I was in an abusive relationship. I hid a lot from my family and distanced myself from my friends. As this was his wish, he made me believe I wasn’t worth friends and the friends who still stuck around, he made me believe they weren’t good enough to be around me or my children or he would cause arguments with my friends just to isolate me.
I felt numb, lonely and worthless. I didn’t have my family close at this point, I only had him and my children and in my mentality this was the only thing that mattered to myself, my family. I also couldn’t admit to people what was going on. I felt weak and lifeless. I didn’t want people judging me as I had children. I never wanted people to think I was a bad mother as I love my children unconditionally.
Last year, more violence happened, but I carried on digging my head in the sand. The first incident of the year was the end of January and quite a vile incident as well. My partner urinated on me. This was my first proper attempt for a cry for help and I called the police. When the police arrived I froze and I didn’t give my statement. I look back at this point and see how little respect I had for myself and how weak I was towards him. He was cautioned for this.
In October another incident happened where my partner was arrested for assault by beating and criminal damage against me. I remember looking at my partner at the time and feeling this sense of deflation come over me. I could not carry on in this situation. My children were watching this abuse and I thought of them as I picked up the phone to the police for the last time. He pleaded guilty and a restraining order for two years was put into place.
As my ex-partner left, I was petrified as I knew that day I became a single mum. I made a promise to myself and my children that day; to love and protect myself and my children for as long as I live. I still didn’t know I had the strength to carry this promise on.
Lisa from the Children’s Centre came into my life a couple of weeks after my ex left, and at this point i’d like to say what an amazing, strong, trustworthy professional and friend she has been. I was very worried and wary of social services and outreach as I have heard the typical horror stories you can hear, but I took it in my stride to prove to them I can be the best mother I can be.
Simon, my social worker, was amazing and was always there to help. He never looked at me in a way that ever felt patronising and always seemed helpful and caring about my situation. I thank social services for their great help and support throughout the time they were involved.
Lisa and the team were my “rocks” throughout the terrible time I went through. Lisa was continuously on the end of the phone when needed, always there when I needed a helping hand, took great interest on how myself and my children were feeling through the uproar of what had happened and even more so, put me on two fantastic courses. The Freedom Programme and Triple P Parenting Course.
Freedom helped me understand so much more than what I thought I could. I gained strength, wisdom, hope and friends. People in my position who greatly understood the importance of exactly what I was feeling. This course should be available in every county. I truly believe, looking back, that Freedom turned me into this person I am today.
Triple P helped me open up to my children more. I never could express my feelings towards my children as I was in constant fear of their father keeping tabs on me so I would block my emotions up. Now a different story…….. I continually tell my children how proud I am of them and how much I adore them. The change in my children has been immense. I never thought they would come so far. They have completely changed for the better and I am so so proud of how great my two children are progressing. They are safe and happy. What more could a mother ask for!
I now live closer to my family and my children are settling in well to their new lives, safely. None of this could have ever been possible without the professionals or projects involved.
I owe them my life as they gave me and my children our lives back.
I thank them and love them so much.
I just hope that other women who have ever been affected or is going through an abusive relationship will find the strength to call out for help as it was the best decision I have ever made. I will never forget the horrific time my children and myself went through, but I can now look back and smile with strength as I can see how far me and my children have come and the better life we live. I want the same for everybody who is/has suffered.