With Sheila Wilson Wednesday 31 May 2017

Sheila works for Greater Manchester West Recovery Academy, delivering workshops in survivors of domestic abuse and substance misuse.

Sheila starts by acknowledging that domestic abuse can affect men and women and that this event is for men and women.

Sheila invites us to explore what domestic abuse is along with providing a definition; Domestic Abuse is any incident of pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or above who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse, Psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional.

Discussion took place around under 16’s and how this would be classed as child abuse as opposed to domestic abuse. Looked at how controlling behaviours of abuse is often more difficult to detect as opposed to physical abuse. Explored what is meant by controlling behaviour and coercive behaviours.

We were invited to participate in a group exercise to identify behaviours that would contribute to each of the 5 types of recognised abuse.

Sheila describes an analogy around the frog to water, and explained that if you were to put a frog in tepid water it would be ok and would stay in the water, if you gradually turned up the temperature by adding more hot water the frog would eventually boil from the hot water, whereas if you exposed a frog to hot water initially it would jump out, Shelia explains that like domestic abuse, over persistent exposure to abuse victims often adapt to the abuse and can become stuck in the cycle, where as if we were aware from the off set of how abusive someone could be we wouldn’t allow ourselves to continue within the relationship.

Looked at the statistics around abuse.

Looked at the impact domestic abuse can have on children and how if children don’t feel safe in their home this can have many negative physical and emotional effects. All children that witness domestic abuse are being emotionally abused.

Explored the cycle of change, such as;

  • Pre – contemplation being the denial stage
  • Contemplation, thinking about change.
  • Determination/preparation, acts on their decision, seeking information, talking,
    exploring options
  • Action, makes the decision to change, takes steps, attends appointments, leaves
  • Maintenance stage, such as keeping healthy behaviour going.
  • Relapse may mean they may return to the abusive relationship or enter another abusive relationship.

Sheila acknowledged that a relapse does not mean they become full lapses, and shares that sometimes these relapses can be an important part of the process and it can provide more of an insight into their relationship and re-affirm their decision to leave.

Group exercise “Why Don’t You Just Leave” involved identifying how friends, family, solicitors, professionals all providing statements/words that a victim may experience which can be overwhelming and conflicting which can make the process of leaving very difficult.

Continued to explore reasons people might stay, along with looking at dedicated helpline’s available;

  • Free phone 24 hour National Domestic Violence & Refuge Helpline 0808 2000 247
  • Male Advice Line & enquiry 0808 801 0327
  • Honour Helpline for advice on force marriage/honour based violence 0800 5999 247
  • Galop (LGBT) 0300 999 5428
  • Victim Support 0845 373 2456
  • Respect 0808 802 4040 or 020 8563 8523 (Helpline for perpetrators who want to change their behaviours)

Jennifer Pennington