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Latest News

Solace is recruiting a Clinical Trustee

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The Board of trustees is looking to recruit a talented new member to complement the skills and expertise of the existing Board. Strong candidates will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and expertise in the therapeutic field (counselling or psychotherapy). Candidates should have a deep understanding of the psychological impact of abuse and the challenges abuse represents to the designing and delivering effective therapeutic services.
Successful candidates will be required to attend 4 board meetings and two away days each year as well as participate on a board sub-committee. Trustees can claim reasonable out-of-pocket and travel expenses but are not otherwise remunerated.

Clinical- Trustee Application Pack FV

151001 Trustee Application Form

To apply please complete the attached application form quoting the reference number SWA25091 and return it to recruitment@solacewomensaid.org.   The closing date for applications is 12noon, Monday 21st March 2016.

Interviews will take place during the weeks commencing 4th and 11th of April.
Solace Women’s Aid values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We encourage and welcome applications from women of all backgrounds. Applicants from BME groups are particularly encouraged to apply. The post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and open to women only (exempt under the Equality Act 2010).

Donate a gift today to support a woman and child fleeing violence this winter

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Around the festive period – when we see even more women fleeing abusive partners as the violence and threat escalates –  Solace needs your help to provide for the most basic of needs.

Many women and children will be arriving at our refuges this winter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing; Alone, their confidence destroyed and traumatised from experiencing horrific abuse. Solace offers them a safe space, support and something of their own.

A gift of £14 could pay for an essentials welcome pack with food and toiletries for a mother and child arriving at one of our refuges this winter

For the same amount as a small present, making a donation of £14 could make those first steps to safety and recovery that little bit easier this winter.

Click HERE TO DONATE NOW or text SOLA07 with the amount (£4, £14, £40) to 70070 e.g. SOLA07£10

 

Milena’s Journey

Last year Milena found solace at one of our refuges. Read about her journey towards recovery:

Surviving abuse…

Milena’s husband was initially charming and confident, but he quickly became increasingly controlling and abusive. He decided what she could wear, what she could eat and who she could see. He would demand sex and rape her when she refused. Milena was abused physically, emotionally, financially and sexually for five years. The violence continued to escalate and on one occasion he violently pulled her around by her hair and tried to choke her.

The first steps to safety…

After several attempts to leave, which can often be the most dangerous time for women and children, she was finally able to escape.

But getting away, and finding solace at one of our refuges was just the first step towards safety and recovery. Over the next few months she got specialist help and access a range of our holistic services.

Rebuilding and recovering…

Attending the Solace ARISE domestic violence awareness program helped Milena understand the dynamics of abuse and rebuild her confidence and self-agency and build resilience to further abuse by recognising early abusive behaviours. Weekly 1-1 emotional and practical support meant she had consistent support to work through her experiences and also start to stabilise her financial situation. Participating in a Solace parenting programme vitally helped rebuild and improve her relationship with her daughter.

The journey continues…

Having accessed a foundation of specialist support through the refuge, Milena has now been referred to our counselling team to help work through more of the emotional scars inflicted by abuse and she will also get practical support and further independence through our Leap into Work scheme.

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Have a voice. Lead the project. #YouthAgainstAbuse

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What is it?

A youth led project in Haringey and Islington

What’s our aim?

To improve the lives of young women & girls and help end violence & abuse

What’s in it for you?

  • Meet new people!
  • A fun weekend away with the team
  • Leadership training & AQA Awards
  • New skills & experience for your CV
  • Expenses paid, refreshments and prizes!

Get involved!

  • Are you a young woman aged 13- 25 living or studying in Islington or Haringey?
  • Have great ideas about ending domestic and sexual abuse?
  • Want to be part of a team, make decisions and MAKE AN IMPACT?

Interested? Get in touch

Find out more and sign up by emailing n.wilson@solacewomensaid.org

#YouthAgainstAbuse

How Trauma Informed Yoga is helping women recover after abuse

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Our North London Rape Crisis team talks about our weekly Trauma Informed Yoga Group for women who have experienced sexual violence/abuse. This group is facilitated by a certified Yoga instructor and helps women in their recovery from trauma.

We’d like to thank Eleonora Ramsby Herrera, an experienced yoga teacher at Yoga Alliance UK,  who volunteers her time to run the group. We’d also like to thank The Life Centre who kindly donated the bolsters and blankets to help us run the groups.

What are some of the common effects of trauma?

While each individual’s reactions are unique, there are some common effects of trauma that survivors of sexual violence or abuse can experience: disconnection between mind and body, traumatic memories being stored at a sensory level in the body, interpersonal difficulties, hypersensitivity to physical contact, difficulty identifying internal states and meeting basic needs, lack of safety, flashbacks, physical reactions to situations that remind survivors of the incident, hyper-arousal, difficulty controlling emotions.

What is Trauma Informed Yoga ?

In 2003, yoga was first used as an adjunctive treatment for trauma at the Trauma Centre[1] in Brookline, Massachusetts. Their goal was to use yoga as a way to help survivors to befriend their bodies and to look further into the possibilities of yoga as a beneficial intervention within the context of trauma treatment. After conducting several surveys, pilot studies and clinical trials[2] with a group of survivors with significant trauma history associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), and development trauma; they were able to determine that trauma-sensitive yoga (TSY) was a promising intervention that has clinical relevance for people in treatment for PTSD.

Trauma Informed Yoga is a highly regarded effective form of intervention for complex trauma that presents the possibility of reintegrating mind and body and offers a way to reprogram automatic physical responses.

What are the main differences to other yoga classes?

The main differences to other yoga classes are: client and facilitator practice together opening the opportunity for a shared authentic experience. Neither metaphors nor physical assistance are used because they may trigger flashbacks or traumatising memories. The yoga postures are offered as invitations giving genuine modifications and options so participants are encouraged to make choices – there is no right or wrong way to do them. Relevance is given to the internal/subjective practice instead of making impositions from the outside so every experience is validated and supported. There is consistency in the postures and clear and repetitive guidance creating a safe space and making clear that everything proposed by the facilitator during class is optional. If anything does not feel right participants are always invited to take a break or if they choose to leave the room then one of the facilitators will follow you out to check.

What do women report are the benefits of Trauma Informed Yoga?

The sessions have had a clear impact on the physical and/or mental wellbeing of the participants. One of the participants found that her experience of yoga was “extremely helpful for her emotional and mental wellbeing” as she was learning to observe physical sensations and increase emotional awareness. Another participant’s feedback about how it felt to practice yoga was: “I’ve never practiced this form of yoga and it was an amazing opportunity to do so in a safe environment with a very experienced teacher. Having had my own reservations I feel I am now open to this type of yoga and have felt better after each session”.

How can women join the yoga after experiencing sexual violence or abuse?

The group is open for women or girls who are already accessing any of the other face to face services in North London Rape Crisis. There is a phone assessment process before joining the group. The group is not a therapeutic group to talk and share experiences so it is suitable for women who may be awaiting a trial. If interested please contact rc.groups@solacewomensaid.org

[1] http://www.traumacenter.org/

[2] http://www.traumacenter.org/research/research_overview.php

Women’s voices: ‘I don’t want people to suffer like I did and for so long, because there is always a way out’

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Author and survivor Emetaron Tata Abuah, who was supported by North London Rape Crisis, talks about her decision to write about the abuse she experienced in the powerful and inspiring book ‘My Side of the Story’.

 

Why I decided to write this book

I decided to write this book simply because it is only now at the age of 47 that I have finally found my voice. For many years I was controlled, exploited and abused due to being from a family dynamic which after years of counselling and working on myself I deemed to be highly dysfunctional. I was part of a culture where intrigue, deceit, lies and secrets were normal and a way of life. Healthy, open, communication and discussion were not at all allowed or initiated. Instead dialogue was tense, sterile and stifled.

For many years I did what I was told and was not allowed to ask questions such as, “why is this happening? Why must I do this? Who says this is right? Is this not wrong? This is wrong!’’ I was met with anger, discord and ambivalence. After a while I reasoned that the discord was designed to perpetuate the abuse and make sure that the perpetrators were able to get away with it and keep that cycle of abuse going. This was to make sure that the truth would never be given the opportunity to reveal itself and in doing so allow them to face justice.

I therefore saw it as my moral duty to share my story and bring awareness to a wider audience in every part of the world that abuse, family dysfunction, violence and corruption should not be tolerated especially if the end goal is to build a world that is ideally safe, fair, just and friendlier. I understand that this will take time, and change takes time but by being one of the voices that can speak out it is at best a good start.

I don’t want people to suffer like I did and for so long, because there is always a way out, there is always something one can do but it takes courage and fearlessness.

Even though I suffered a great deal, I was able to learn many lessons. I know that one of the legacies of abuse and its consequences is that it will pass from generation to generation if care is not taken to weed out the abuse and address why it is happening. By speaking out and writing my story I want people to understand how abuse can start, as well as how it can infiltrate every aspect of one’s life until it has total control of one’s life and then escalates into a living nightmare. I don’t want people to suffer like I did and for so long, because there is always a way out, there is always something one can do but it takes courage and fearlessness.

I suffered in silence and there was no way I could end it until I eventually came back to London, England where I was able to receive a tremendous amount of available help and support. However I had to help myself. I was very lucky. Not many people who have had similar issues to me have been as fortunate.

I wrote this book to give something back to the system that was able to help me and to be a voice for the many silent voices and untold stories of abuse and injustice, which we rarely ever have the opportunity to hear about.

I also wanted to share and reveal my insight regarding the fate of women particularly, women of colour and those from ethnic minorities. Many especially from developing countries do not have the convenience and luxury of a welfare state system, which women who are resident in Europe can access very easily. Therefore if their marriages break down they are left with no, or virtually no, support be it financial, or emotional support from their friends and families, simply because on a cultural level, when situations reach breaking point it is rare that people stick around for the long term and continue to offer assistance. After a while this begins to cool off and people back away from any involvement. However if the woman in question has the privilege of being in meaningful employment where they receive a salary and are therefore in a position to help and support themselves then they will fare better than those that don’t.

Women need to help and support each other first, regardless of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or economic status.

However, this is not usually the case and most of them find themselves ostracised, undermined and expected to do nothing. As women we need to support and acknowledge each other when this happens, instead of pretending it is not really happening and dutifully mind our own business, just in case people presume we are being too sympathetic. At times help is not offered simply because some women in question automatically assume that if they show interest and get involved they may face the same fate and injustice. This is very unfortunate. Women need to help and support each other first, regardless of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or economic status. Nothing will ever change unless we make a commitment to lead the way for change on a grand scale especially concerning women’s rights and nuanced cultural rigid abuse malpractices.

Finally my mother’s story is an example and warning to all women particularly in the developing world where the achievements and contribution that women can make are not recognized or encouraged. I believe that it is far better in the long run to speak out and confront the abuse and the abuser. Dutifully keeping quiet within a culture that imposes harsh penalties for confronting the issues at large verbally serves very little purpose, in most cases it will eventually backfire and create more problems and trouble for you. I encourage anyone who is having a hard time deciding how to proceed to firstly share and discuss the issues with trusted friends or family if one feels comfortable doing so with them.

I would also say that it is worth the risk. Living in fear, isolation, and being silenced is designed to intimidate, shutdown and coerce you into being small, cowardly and without a voice.

At times acquaintances can fit this remit, especially if they seem understanding and approachable, it may be worth the effort and time. I would also say that it is worth the risk. Living in fear, isolation, and being silenced is designed to intimidate, shutdown and coerce you into being small, cowardly and without a voice. As a result nothing will ever change. The cycle and machine of abuse continues which damages you, your children and the relationship you may have with them. Even if they may not be able to help, there is a possibility that they may know someone who can. If not find a counsellor, therapist or psychotherapist depending on what feels right for you. Often third party can work well as they will be impartial, it will be in most cases a confidential scenario and they never tell one what to do, give advice unless one is in danger of harming another or themselves.

DO’s

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, share this with someone. As difficult as it may seem, take action. Again, let me quote Oprah Winfrey, “people who love you, don’t hurt you. Love does not hurt”.

Recommended reading for survivors of sexual violence

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Our North London Rape Crisis team have recommended 5 books that can helpful for survivors on their recovery after sexual violence and abuse.

The Courage to Heal (Ellen Bass and Laura Davis)

Based on the experiences of hundreds of child abuse survivors, The Courage to Heal profiles victims who share the challenges and triumphs of their personal healing processes. Inspiring and comprehensive, it offers mental, emotional and physical support to all people who are in the process of rebuilding their lives. The Courage to Heal offers hope, encouragement and practical advice to every woman who was sexually abused as a child and answers some vital questions.

The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel van der Kolk)

What causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and what treatments could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy? Here, Dr Bessel van der Kolk offers a new paradigm for effectively treating traumatic stress.

Neither talking nor drug therapies have proven entirely satisfactory. With stories of his own work and those of specialists around the globe, The Body Keeps the Score sheds new light on the routes away from trauma – which lie in the regulation and syncing of body and mind, using sport, drama, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and other routes to equilibrium.

Trauma is Really Strange (Steve Haines)

What is trauma? How does it change the way our brains work? And how can we overcome it?

When something traumatic happens to us, we dissociate and our bodies shut down their normal processes. This unique comic explains the strange nature of trauma and how it confuses the brain and affects the body. With wonderful artwork, cat and mouse metaphors, essential scientific facts, and a healthy dose of wit, the narrator reveals how trauma resolution involves changing the body’s physiology and describes techniques that can achieve this, including Trauma Releasing Exercises that allow the body to shake away tension, safely releasing deep muscular patterns of stress and trauma.

The Courage to be Me (Nina Burrowes)

How do you rebuild your life after sexual abuse? Join a group of women as they share their stories of courage, self-compassion and hope. Find out how meeting each other and learning about recovery helped them find the courage to be themselves. The courage to be me combines science, storytelling and illustration to send a message of hope to the millions of people who are living with the impact of rape or sexual abuse. Written by psychologist and researcher Dr Nina Burrowes

My Side of the Story (Emetaron Tata Abuah)

Author Emetaron Tata Abuah, now in her forties is ready to tell the story of her difficult and unhappy childhood. She was one of six children of Nigerian parents; her father was a successful diplomat who became Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Her parents’ marriage was unhappy and abusive, with her cold and violent father having numerous affairs. After living in luxurious surroundings in London, Tokyo and New York, when her parents finally split up she found herself living with her mother in poverty in Onitsha, Nigeria.

Spells in Kenya and England at boarding schools did little to improve Emetaron’s life, which was blighted by physical and sexual abuse at the hands of both family members and people to whom she turned for help and advice.

My Side of the Story, My Perspective and My Truth is a powerful but harrowing account of Emetaron’s early life and her struggle to break free of the cycle of abuse to build a secure life for herself.

Simple self-care tips for survivors of violence & abuse

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As part of the Sexual Violence & Sexual Abuse Awareness Week our North London Rape Crisis therapists, who provide specialist counselling for survivors of all forms of sexual violence and abuse, are sharing some really useful self-help tips.

Sexual violence and abuse #itsnotok

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Solace is supporting Sexual Violence and Sexual Abuse Awareness Week (6-12th February). The awareness week was set up to get people talking about sexual violence, united in the fact that #itsnotok. We need more conversations to help prevent abuse as well as let survivors know there is help out there. This week we’ll be speaking out about sexual violence and abuse as well as sharing some useful self-help tips for survivors. Find out more about the week and events in your area here.

What to talk about sexual violence and abuse?

We run the North London Rape Crisis Helpline which is a free, anonymous service available to women and girls aged 13+ who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time: recent or non-recent. We offer a safe and non-judgmental space for women, whether you are already receiving support, awaiting counselling, or speaking out for the first time.

Freephone Helpline 0808 801 0305

The helpline is here to provide specialist emotional support and confidential information about options and services available. We’re not here to tell you what to do. We’re here to give you the information and support to choose what’s right for you.

We also provide support and advice for the friends and family of survivors, as well as professionals working alongside them.

Find out more about our all our North London Rape Crisis services here 

Race Against Violence at the Royal Parks Half Marathon

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Don’t miss the chance to support and run for Solace Women’s Aid at our first ever Royal Parks Half Marathon! Run through historic London, through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, passing stunning sites like the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace.

 

Date: 8th October 2017

Location: London

Distance: 13.1 miles

Registration fee: £35

Registration Deadline: 26th July 2017

Minimum Sponsorship: £325

 

Benefits of joining the Race Against Violence team

  • A Solace running vest
  • A fundraising pack to help you reach your target
  • Support throughout the training and fundraising process
  • We’ll be there on the day to support you and cheer you on!

 

Contact Jessie at fundraising@solacewomensaid.org for more information or to get your place!

Volunteer Awards 2016

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In December we held the volunteer awards ceremony. We would like to say a huge congratulations to all those volunteers who received an award and a big thank you to those who attended the event. We do hope you enjoyed the event and especially the quiz.

Volunteer Empowerment Award – Apollonia

Apollonia is a very warm, friendly and approachable volunteer, extremely dedicated to helping all the staff and service users that she works with.    She has selected cosmetics and toiletries from our basket for service users who were vulnerable or in a state of shock or mental distress and unable to do this for themselves.  Apollonia shows much care and consideration to service users and treats them gently and appropriately and always has their interests at heart.  She has several very busy jobs, 3 in Solace and several outside and she is always ready to help others and go many extra miles.  She continues to be a lovely positive presence in Reception that empowers others and makes everyone feel good about themselves.

Volunteer Commitment Award –  Amanda

Amanda volunteers with Enfield SASS she is reliable and efficient and has such a great work ethic. Amanda works 3 days per week and never misses a day. She works extremely hard, providing excellent admin assistance to the team, including excelling in her understanding of Oasis. More recently Amanda has taken on direct case work including risk assessing and supporting at court. Amanda has made fantastic use of the resources available at Solace from attending training and gaining accreditations, team meetings, case work, and support at court to ordering stationary. I am involved in the direct line management of Amanda and in fact have never worked with a volunteer that pays so much attention to detail as Amanda, she is keen to take on challenging tasks and sees it through to completion. I am always impressed by Amanda’s dedication to her role, her dedication for change an empowerment for women and children and the commitment she has shown to Solace. Amanda is approachable, and supportive when working with service user’s when advising over the phone, supporting at appointments or in court. She understands that our service users often at times need someone to represent their views and speak up when they feel unable too, Amanda on several occasions has been the voice they need. I believe her values and personal qualities highlight all that Solace represents and I am delighted to nominate her for the honor of Volunteer Commitment Award.

Volunteer Commitment Award –  Salma

Salma is very committed in her role on the Advice Line.  She is very proactive and will always seek to support clients and the rest of the team.  She is personable and empathic in her approach with clients and eager to learn as much as possible.  She is an asset to the Advice Service.

Salma is a fast learner and works hard to improve her work to a very high standard. Salma is willing and often helps other services such as on the Silver Project when asked. Salma’s friendly approach in the office has a happy effect on her colleagues.  Salma has actively been attending the training Solace provides.

Volunteer Commitment Award –  Nia

Nia has performed her role as NLRC helpline volunteer since June 2015 and has completed more than 200 hours supporting survivors of sexual violence. She has performed her role to the highest standards showing commitment by attending more shifts than requested and supporting the service during busy periods. I am particularly impressed by Nia’s strong work ethic, conscientiousness and her proactive attitude towards the ownership of tasks. It has been an absolutely pleasure to work with Nia as she is unfailingly enthusiastic and committed to SWA’s work in combating injustice and gender inequality. I feel that we have not only an excellent professional in our team but we have the pleasure of working with someone extremely kind, who genuinely inspired us all. She has a very approachable manner, is an excellent listener and genuinely cares about the well-being of all the callers seeking emotional support over the phone.

Volunteer of the Year Award – Wiss

In her role as helpline volunteer, Wiss has been providing emotional support over the phone to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence for 12 hours per week since April 2016. Wiss has conducted her role very effectively, showing excellent use of essential counselling skills and an empathetic and truly approachable manner with survivors seeking support. As such, she is a well-respected and trusted member of our team who could be relied upon to provide support and complete work to the highest standards. Wiss has offered assistance to other volunteers when they have required it on exploring the impacts of trauma and the use of grounding techniques in providing trauma-informed care that empowers survivors. Wiss is an extremely kind, thoughtful, dedicated and committed person. Her work has been outstanding compared with other volunteers which is why we believe that she should be granted the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteer Newcomer Award – Danni

Danni has been an excellent volunteer and she settled into the Reception role very quickly in the summer.   Danni completes her work quickly, she uses her own initiative, she is discreet, calm and always cheerful, polite and approachable to staff and service users.  Danni works a high speed, she is a whizz in software packages, she can deal with challenging or difficult situations in Reception and she works very harmoniously with staff on the ground floor.  It’s a pleasure to work with her and always great to know that the Reception is in good hands.

Volunteer Newcomer Award – Violet

Violet has helped to deliver the latest ARISE Domestic Abuse Awareness Programme, a six week course that helps survivors understand abuse and move towards recovery.  Violet has thrown herself into the role from day one, and has been consistently reliable, helpful and a pleasure to work with. Not only does she engage well with survivors, making everyone feel comfortable and welcome, she also has bought in beautiful, healthy home cooked food for the women to enjoy during the sessions. Violet is a great volunteer and we look forward to working with her again on future groups.

Volunteer Newcomer Award – Izzy

Izzy is an absolute pleasure to work with. She is very committed to working with Solace and it shows in her daily tasks and in her input in team meetings.She is very skillful in her communication with service users and has shown an ability to keep up with the busy pace of the administration of the service.On top of providing support with our daily tasks she has been in charge of developing guides on how to carry out the most important administration tasks of our service and has also taken the lead in contacting women who have left our service to gain feedback. Both of these accomplishments have been greatly appreciated by our team.We know we will not be able to keep her forever because she is actively looking for jobs and there is no doubt she will be an immeasurable addition to any organization, but while she is with us we want her to know that our team really values her input and good humour.

A slideshow with pictures from the volunteer awards ceremony 2016

Solace launches training to help professionals respond to domestic & sexual abuse

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With over 3 million women experiencing some form of violence or abuse every year in the UK, more and more organisations are looking to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence around engaging and supporting survivors of all ages.

Drawing on over 40 years’ experience providing frontline services for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, Solace Women’s Aid provides training to professionals looking to develop their practice in responding to women, children and young people affected by these issues.

We also work with companies to help them develop their organisational response to domestic and sexual violence as it affects their staff, recognising the mutual positive, benefits for survivors and the organisation as a whole.

Solace Women’s Aid will be running regular open courses in 2017, from introductory training around domestic abuse to specialist training for practitioners and counsellors. These courses can also be delivered directly to your organisation or tailored to meet your needs. Email us to find out more or visit the training website page for more details.

Upcoming open courses

Supporting Survivors of Sexual Abuse

This course is aimed at those working directly with survivors of sexual violence and abuse in a range of contexts. As well as developing knowledge of rape and sexual violence, the course will help participants build the skills to facilitate and respond to disclosures of sexual abuse, and effectively signpost survivors to relevant local services, whilst maintaining professional boundaries.

Date: 23rd March 2017

Location: Solace Centre, London, N7 9NY, view on map

Book HERE

Domestic Abuse and the Impact on Children & Young people

The voice of children and young people is often missed in cases of domestic abuse. This course will help practitioners build their skills and knowledge around working with children and young people affected by domestic abuse, both whilst still living in abusive environments and post-separation.  This course includes practical responses for practitioners working with children and young people to help build the confidence to effectively respond to their needs.

Date: 23rd February 2017

Location: Solace Centre, London, N7 9NY, view on map

Book HERE

16 Days of Action – Women’s voices: Breaking out of the cycle of abuse

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I had been with my partner a year before she was ever physically violent towards me. After the first incident I wanted to leave but she apologised, told me she loved me, and promised to never do it again and I believed her. However, this pattern continued to repeat itself and I found myself stuck in a cycle of physical and emotional abuse and manipulation and coercion.

Whilst undergoing CBT I mentioned about an incident of violence to my therapist and she referred me to a small LGBT Domestic Violence charity. After months of support and encouragement that in order to get better I needed to get out of my abusive relationship and heal myself, I took the plunge and decided to get things in motion. After a very long two weeks of toing and froing between the council, my GP, the hospital, housing services and a rejection from one refuge on the grounds that they did not have the right support in place for my mental health needs, I was very fortunate to be given a room in Solace’s specialist refuge for complex needs.

My experience of being in an abusive relationship has had an unimaginable impact of my life. When I moved into the refuge I hugely struggled with self-harm, depression and anxiety and my sleep was plagued with nightmares and flashbacks to what had happened.

 

My experience of being in an abusive relationship has had an unimaginable impact of my life. When I moved into the refuge I hugely struggled with self-harm, depression and anxiety and my sleep was plagued with nightmares and flashbacks to what had happened. To add to this I used various substances as a way of coping with what had happened which only further impacted on my mental health. When I arrived at the refuge I had zero confidence in myself, virtually no self-esteem and had been coerced and manipulated to such an extent that I believed what had happened was my fault and that I had deserved it.

Solace’s specialist refuge is for women with multiple disadvantage – complex mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues, and with 24 hour support staff. Given the nature of the service, there were times when the refuge was incredibly chaotic however, it felt incredibly safe and for the first time I felt at home somewhere.

I genuinely felt like my keyworker believed in me which enabled me to make positive changes in my life and go on to maintain them.

 

We had various groups throughout the week ranging from art therapy to tai chi to how to cope with trauma and on Fridays we all had breakfast together as a house. Support at the refuge came in various forms but the most important factor was that each service user was in control of what they wanted to happen and we were empowered to make decisions and choices that reflected our individual needs. Having someone give me a hand up and guide me towards independent living meant so much to me and gave me a huge amount of confidence in order to achieve things in a way that would not have happened if I was simply handed something to do. I genuinely felt like my keyworker believed in me which enabled me to make positive changes in my life and go on to maintain them.

After 6 months in the refuge, I spent 2 months in a low support refuge and have now secured a job and am planning on moving in with some friends in the next few weeks. I would not have got to this point without the support from Solace Women’s Aid.

COVER YOUR TRACKS