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In Our Own Words

An Evidence Based Evaluation of Crewe Women’s Aid Developed by:

Sue French Lyndsey Fowells Corine Young Gillian Plevin


In Our Own Words Contents

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In Our Own Words Key Findings and Recommendations In 2011, Crewe Women‟s Aid set out to fully review, assess and evaluate itself as an organisation. This began in March with a full governance and policy review, implementation of recommendations from the findings and assessing quality of service. In September, following a thorough analysis of monitoring and evaluation information, a comprehensive evaluation of the service was developed across four key areas: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Key issues in domestic abuse – assessment of current local and national research Need for the service – community and service user need Quality of partnerships – to avoid duplication and improve collaboration Issues for Children and Young People – What more can be done?

Key Findings o Domestic Abuse is a gendered issue and both male and female victims require specialist, gender appropriate services o Victims of domestic abuse do not want to keep repeating their „story‟ to multiple agencies o Victims of domestic abuse particularly appreciate „drop-in‟ type facilities o Counselling and other recovery and therapeutic programmes need to be part of a holistic, wrap around package of services o Child victims and witnesses of domestic abuse need specialist, age appropriate support and recovery programmes to break the cycle of abuse o Domestic Abuse Services need to recognise and meet the complex, multiple needs being faced by victims

Recommendations Violence against women and girls is high on the government‟s agenda, with an emphasis on prevention and support. The current economic climate has hit specialist charitable organisations like Crewe Women‟s Aid particularly hard over the last twelve months and the government‟s proposed austerity measures will have an even greater impact over the next four years.

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In Our Own Words The following recommendations necessarily take full account of the difficulties faced by the organisation within the current financial climate. 1.

Safe, Emergency accommodation is vital. CWA must maintain safe accommodation for up to ten families and if possible, plan to increase this over the next few years to meet levels of demand

2.

Maintain current levels of one to one support, counselling, advice and recovery programmes

3.

Basic needs must be met and are vital to the support of women and children (Food, Clothing, Transport)

4.

CWA should develop a promotions strategy to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the services available

5.

Increase opportunities for volunteering within CWA for current and ex service users

6.

Focus on further developing children‟s and young people‟s therapeutic programmes, learning from the pilot Acorns and Changing Places

7.

Develop further opportunities for collaborative working across Cheshire East

8.

Expand opportunities for leisure activity groups – including linking in with external recreational, leisure services and social media

9.

Develop a service user led befriending and support service to complement existing services. This would involve training a small group of the most confident service users to provide peer support in order to:

10.

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Assist in the use of computers and accessing information;

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When appropriate accompanying women to appointments and on necessary visits and trips;

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Providing information on accessing new opportunities (e.g. college courses, volunteering, community activities etc).

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Accompanying women on social outings.

A further increase in service user involvement would provide more opportunities for development for women as well as using this excellent knowledge base to improve services for all.

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In Our Own Words 1. Crewe Women’s Aid and the Lily Jones Support Centre Crewe Women‟s Aid (CWA) provides a range of wraparound services to adults and children, who have experienced domestic abuse, including: o o o o o o o o

a 24hr telephone helpline refuge accommodation one to one support recovery and therapeutic personal development programmes for adults and children a befriending service volunteering opportunities social and leisure activities and; practical support with clothing and food

This service is essential because it helps you to get away from the abusive partner. It helps you start again with constant support.”

CWA covers the geographic area of Cheshire East, is based in Crewe and runs from the Lily Jones Support Centre, a community venue dedicated to domestic abuse services. CWA is committed to collaborative working with a range of local statutory and community partners. Although CWA is traditionally an organisation for women, they work closely with another local provider to ensure that the needs of adult male victims are met a ppropriately and with a dedicated male support worker.

2. What is Domestic Abuse? Domestic abuse may, and often does, include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are, in themselves, inherently “violent. These can include physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse that take place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that form patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and other crimes affecting minority communities including female genital mutilation and so called „honour crimes‟.

Domestic abuse is physical, sexual, financial and psychological

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In Our Own Words Domestic abuse is repetitive, life-threatening, and can destroy the lives of victims. Both men and women may experience incidents of inter-personal violence, although women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence. Women constitute 89% of all victims who had experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic abuse. (Walby and Allen, 2004) There were over one million female victims of domestic abuse in 2009/10 (British Crime Survey Data). CWA recognises that domestic abuse is a gendered issue and that victims respond best to gender specific services. CWA offers female staff and works closely with a local partner organisation who provides specialist support to male victims of domestic abuse ensuring that male victims recieve the most appropriate support available. Victims may experience domestic abuse regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle. Domestic abuse can also occur in a range of relationships including heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships, and also within extended families. Findings from an analysis of the self-completion Intimate Personal Violence (IPV) module of the British Crime Survey include the following:   

There was little variation in the experience of inter-personal violence by ethnicity. Factors associated with increased risk of domestic abuse include poverty (though not social class) and youth: women under the age of 30 are at considerably greater risk than those over the age of 40 years. The prevalence of domestic abuse, found by using self-completion methodology is five times higher than the figure usually produced by interviews or other methods.

3. What are the Effects of Domestic Abuse on Victims? An Evidence Based Evaluation Of Crewe Women’s Aid . Page 6


In Our Own Words Victims may be affected by domestic abuse in a number of ways. They may experience any or all of the following: o Isolation from family/friends. A key tactic of an abuser is to incrementally remove and reduce a victims contact with friends and family, reducing their support network and increasing the dependency on the abusive relationship. o “He said it was just me and him, we didn‟t need anyone else. If I did see my (mum) it wasn‟t worth it for the grief he gave me after. Eventually I just hadn‟t seen anyone for such a long time that I was embarrassed to ask for help” CWA service user o Loss of income or work. Findings from the self-completion module of the 2001 British Crime Survey (Walby and Allen, 2004) show that domestic abuse has a detrimental impact on employment. Among employed women who suffered domestic abuse in 2007, 21 per cent took time off work and two per cent lost their jobs. o 27% of women coming into the CWA refuge accommodation lost their jobs in 2009/10. 89% of service users are in receipt of benefits o Domestic abuse has serious consequences for the physical and mental health of victims, who are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic systems, eating problems and sexual dysfunction. Abuse may also affect reproductive health. (World Health Organisation, 2000). 31 per cent of women responding to a national survey dentified that the abuse had resulted in mental or emotional problems. o CWA statistics show that 59% of service users (200910) experienced mental health problems o Homelessness. Research on homelessness for Shelter has found that domestic abuse is "the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless".

I met him in 2001, we both worked nights (supermarket) in Crewe. We moved in together within months of meeting. From the outset there were problems, he was jealous, needy, clingy and possessive. At first I felt quite flattered by the thought someone needed me that much. I thought it showed he loved me and it felt nice to be loved.

I lost everything. My home, my clothes, photo‟s... its just stuff but it hurts that it‟s someone you loved that took it all away

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In Our Own Words o Physical injury or ongoing impairment. Injuries were often sustained as a result of domestic abuse. During the worst incident of domestic abuse experienced in the last year, 46 per cent of women sustained a minor physical injury, 20 per cent a moderate physical injury, and six per cent severe injuries. o “I really thought I was going to die. I couldn‟t even feel the pain from my face, I was just terrified that he would set light to the lighter fluid” (this CWA service user had her face smashed with a heavy cast iron pan causing severe damage and needing surgery. She was then doused in lighter fluid and threatened with being set on fire) o If they are pregnant, they may miscarry or the baby may be stillborn. In 30% of cases of domestic abuse, the abuse first started during pregnancy. (McWilliams and McKiernan, 1993). Amongst a group of pregnant women attending primary care in East London, 15% reported violence during their pregnancy; just under 40% reported that violence started whilst they were pregnant, whilst 30% who reported violence during pregnancy also reported they had at sometime suffered a miscarriage as a result (Coid, 2000). Another study found that between 4 and 9 women in every 100 are abused during their pregnancies and/or after the birth. o “Having to give birth knowing that my baby was dead was the worst kind of torture. She was so tiny and perfect. Then he (husband) brought flowers and presents to the hospital. All the nurses thought he was wonderful and I felt dead inside. He said no one would believe me and I thought he was right” o Death. Two women a week are killed by their partners or former partners.

4. What is the Local Impact of Domestic Abuse? Statistics from CWA show that in Cheshire East (October 2010-October 2011), 86% of service users experienced physical injury and/or mental health problems linked to the domestic abuse. CWA staff work carefully with each individual and family to ensure that they have access to appropriate medical and health care, often supporting service users to access mental health services either through IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) or Cheshire and Wirral Mental Health Partnership.

Crewe Women’s Aid regularly has a waiting list for refuge space that could fill almost double all existing local provision 2010/11 figures

In addition, 27% of women coming into refuge lost their jobs. 47% had to claim new benefits and 89% of service users across the service were on some form of benefits. CWA supports service users to resolve financial problems, access the correct benefits and regain the confidence to return to work.

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In Our Own Words 5. What are the effects of Domestic Abuse on Children and Young People? The majority of children witness the violence that is occurring and in 80% of cases they are in the same or the next room. In about half of all domestic abuse situations, the children are also being directly abused themselves. Children living in households where domestic abuse is occurring are now identified as “at risk” under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. From 31 January 2005, Section 120 of this act extended the legal definition of harming children to include harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others. Children can “witness domestic abuse” in many different ways. For example, they may be in the same room and may even get caught in the middle of an incident in an effort to make the violence stop; they may be in the room next door and hear the abuse or see their mother‟s physical injuries following an incident of violence; they may be forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play; they may be forced to witness sexual abuse or they may be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim. All children witnessing domestic abuse are being emotionally abused. Children can experience both short and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects as a result of witnessing domestic abuse

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In Our Own Words Children‟s responses to the trauma of witnessing domestic abuse may vary according to a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, age, race, sex and stage of development. These are some of the effects on children of witnessing domestic abuse, described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004): they may become anxious or depressed; they may have difficulty sleeping; they have nightmares or flashbacks; they can be easily startled; they may complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches; they may start to wet their bed; they may have temper tantrums; they may behave as though they are much younger than they are; they may have problems with school; they may become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people; they may have a lowered sense of self-worth; older children may begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs; they may begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves; they may have an eating disorder. Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused. They may have ambivalent feelings towards both the abuser and the non-abusing parent. Specialist domestic abuse services have a crucial role in helping women and children deal with the effects of domestic abuse on children. The “cycle of violence” otherwise known as the “intergenerational theory” is often referred to when considering the effects of domestic abuse on children. This is the theory that describes how children who witness or experience domestic abuse in childhood often go on to have abusive relationships as adults.

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In Our Own Words 6. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Children in Cheshire East Over the last six months, in an attempt to understand the impact of the „cycle of violence‟ Crewe Women‟s Aid and the Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Family Safety Unit (DAFSU)have analysed information taken from high risk MARAC (Multi Agency Response to Abuse Conference) cases and CWA floating support cases and identified the following information: o almost 70% of perpetrators are known to have experienced domestic abuse in their childhood o almost 75% of victims are known to have experienced domestic abuse in their childhood This information has led to the two organisations developing a shared data management project which will allow improved information sharing and further, detailed analysis. In addition, Crewe Women‟s Aid has delivered a pilot programme aimed at Children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse and are having difficulties with behaviour e.g aggression and anger issues. The pilot group of five young people had 100% attendance throughout the summer holidays and initial outcomes are positive.

I like coming, it‟s fun and it helps you deal with your feelings better

Following the successful pilot of Acorns and Changing Places, CWA are planning to expand on this to deliver the following: Jigsaw Jigsaw is a recovery programme aimed at children who have lived in a situation of domestic abuse but who are now living in a safe environment (refuge or new home with non abusing parent). This sixteen week programme aims to give children the strategies that will help them make sense of their experiences and understand the elements of a healthy relationship. Expect Respect Toolkit This toolkit, with age appropriate activities and games, brings a fun element to a serious subject whilst addressing some key issues linked to domestic abuse. It is a useful tool for preventative and awareness raising work

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In Our Own Words Crewe Women‟s Aid will also continue to deliver the following existing services to children and young people: Acorns and Changing Places Both of these therapeutic programmes use cognitive behavioural techniques to help young people to take responsibility for their own behaviour and create healthier relationships with the people in their lives. Specifically aimed at children who demonstrate aggressive and controlling behaviours, these programmes aim to break the cycle of abuse by providing children and young people with tools to manage feelings and frustrations. Freedom CWA staff have carefully adapted the Freedom programme to be age appropriate for 13-18 year olds. The programme is delivered in both one to one and group settings. Freedom is all about recognising abusive behaviour patterns and understanding how abusive people think. It is vital for young women who are already forming relationships that are controlling and unhealthy, in enabling them to identify positive and negative elements of a relationship Play based activities CWA offers regular outings and activities to families who have experienced domestic abuse. As well as these outings CWA offers a range of play activities for younger children (0-8) with staff and volunteers who are trained to make assessments and offer age appropriate activities. Within this age range, use of puppets, work around understanding feelings and being able to express feelings and building relationships is crucial. Children within this age group take in a lot of information and are still forming their world view. Our staff work with them to have fun in a safe environment and build trust so that they can raise their fears and concerns. Signposting CWA offers one to one support to families, acts as lead agency for CAF‟s and provides a number of programmes and activities for children and young people. We also have very strong links with other local organisations such as Catch 22 (early Intervention team), CLASP (a single parent support group and counselling service), The Youth Offending Team (young offenders), the safeguarding children in education team and children‟s centres across Cheshire East. CWA receives referrals from each of these organisations and where appropriate make referrals into each of these organisations

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In Our Own Words 7. CWA Working in Partnership to end Domestic Abuse In August 2011, Crewe Women‟s Aid began a comprehensive evaluation of its service incorporating a service user survey including a series of focus groups and a partner survey. Of 41 organisations across Cheshire East that responded to the survey, over 95% felt that CWA was a key partner in domestic abuse provision across Cheshire East. 100% of organisations regularly referred people to CWA and 90% felt that any loss of CWA services would have a negative impact on their own service delivery with just one organisation feeling there would be no impact. There are three specialist domestic abuse agencies in Cheshire East; Crewe Women‟s Aid; Arch, providing refuge accommodation and floating support in the south of the Borough and Barnardo‟s, offering floating support in the North of the Borough. In addition, there is a vulnerable women‟s project in Congleton (North), whilst this is not a specialist DA service they often work with women who have been in abusive relationships and RASASC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Service. Each organisation is constantly working to full capacity and provides some different and some similar services to the local community. CWA specialises in high risk, complex cases, offers specialist recovery programmes and courses at our community based venue and our refuge provision is made up of discrete housing spread across Crewe. Arch has a six bed refuge as well as some community based provision. CWA refer women to Arch if they need more supervision than the dispersed refuge can offer. Arch also has an excellent male DA service and CWA refer all male victims into this service.

“I was referred by the family safety unit. I was with Jan (DAFSU) & then they referred me to floating support at CWA. I had two workers come to visit me at home, which made me feel comfortable & they also introduced themselves to my daughter which I thought was nice. I attended the Lily Jones Centre to access the courses, but also I had support from (Support Worker) visiting at home. (Support Worker) visited every week, which helped a lot with practical stuff but also it was nice just to offload.”

CWA offer free training in programme delivery and group facilitation to staff from local agencies and also allows free use of the Lily Jones Support Centre to all partners within Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Partnership.

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In Our Own Words Crewe Women‟s Aid chair the Specialist Service sub group of Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Partnership and work closely with other local agencies to provide seamless services across the area. Comments from the partner survey demonstrate how important CWA is to other local agencies. “We constantly refer clients to CWA and find their service to be the best in the area. The support workers are superb and work on supporting survivors both practically and emotionally until they are able to be fully independent. Staff often attend core group meetings and are always able to offer clear and detailed reporting and offers of additional support including childcare for Freedom, which is really important” “My recent experience has been very positive. I am impressed by the level of partnership engagement, the 'can-do' attitude of staff, the skill and knowledge of staff and the fact that significant commitment has been retained by staff to the organisation despite quite difficult circumstances. My impression is that the team are well managed and increasingly confident in their competencies and roles.” “I feel that the service is extremely valuable in helping survivors of DA rebuild their lives. Input from the service at multiagency meetings I have attended has always been appropriate and proactive.” “As an IDVA I work with clients who are at high risk from domestic abuse and have referred many women to CWA for on-going floating support, group programmes and refuge. This service is essential in providing survivors with the longer term support which enables them to re-build their lives and support their children ultimately making women and children safer”. “As a detective within the PPU, I have relied on Crewe Women‟s Aid on a number of occasions for emergency accommodation and support at a time when women need it in the most.”

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In Our Own Words 8. An evidence based service In addition to the CWA service user survey and focus groups, there is a well established national research and evidence base regarding effective ways of meeting the needs of victims of domestic abuse. There are examples of good practice leading to positive outcomes for victims. Working practices at CWA are based on this evidence offering an effective range of services. The key findings of the survey and associated research are summarised below. 1. Early Intervention – In the governments Violence against Women and Girls Strategy, early intervention is one of the four key priorities, recognising that prevention if possible, and early response if prevention is not possible, have the best possible chance of breaking the cycle of abuse. Services such as CWA are recognised as having a vital role to play in this and can contribute to a range of local authority „prevention and wellbeing agenda‟s‟. CWA play a key role in the Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Partnership, chairing the specialist services sub group and being part of the monthly multi agency response to abuse conferences. CWA also regularly deliver awareness and information sessions in local schools, colleges and community organisations to raise awareness of domestic abuse and of the support available. Importantly, a woman interviewed as part of the recent CWA service user evaluation commented: „I wish I had known about this service ten years ago. I could have saved myself and the children so much pain‟ 2. Meeting basic needs – Research has shown the importance of addressing basic needs such as emergency accommodation alongside other interventions. (revolving doors agency 2010) Additionally, access to clothes and food has been identified as being important by service users participating in the CWA survey. 60% of service users have had access to free food since April 2009, 54% have had free clothing for themselves and/or a child/young person and 36% have had support with transport. This is confirmed by CWA service users feedback as a vital part of the service.  

“I was dead scared about going in a refuge but it was fine. It was warm and it was safe, the kids could play in the playroom, we had clothes and we had food. That was more than I could say at home on a bad week” “The day after court, I got the children back. But I had no money and my extra benefits would take a couple of weeks to sort out. She (CWA staff member) gave me four big bags of food and then more again the next week. I genuinely do not know what I would have done without it”.

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In Our Own Words 

“we arrived at the refuge with nothing. I mean, just what we had on. Imagine leaving everything behind, even photographs and your baby‟s clothes. There I was, crying with my three sweaty, grubby children and they just kitted us out. They gave us everything from knickers and pyjamas to flannels, towels, soap and shampoo. They gave us food for supper that night and breakfast the next day. They even gave me a pushchair. I will never be more grateful for anything than I was for that stuff. I lay in bed that night in the refuge and thought; it‟s all gonna work out, you know?”

Fig 1. Basic Needs

3. Advice and Information needs – Adult victims of domestic abuse have often experienced economic abuse by their partner (34% of survey respondents) and almost 90% of CWA service users have problems with legal, financial and benefits related issues. CWA staff will support with the majority of these but also plays a key role in signposting to other services and supporting service users to access those services. 

“I had never claimed benefits before. My husband managed all our money, he even chose our clothes. I never went shopping without him. I had no idea how to start the divorce, no idea how to budget or get insurance for my car. (Support worker) talked me through it all. I bet she thought I was stupid. But really, I‟d just never needed to think about these things” “I was in a right mess. The mortgage, the baby, the business... all tied me to him. It felt like trying to untangle a pile of spaghetti”

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In Our Own Words 4. Counselling and other therapeutic and recovery programmes need to be part of a holistic support package. 98% of women responding to the CWA service user survey identified these programmes to be essential.    

“Without that (Gateway Programme) I think I would just have kept going round and round in circles” “I started to unpick things..... I didn‟t even think some of them (behaviours) were abusive until then, I just thought it was normal” “It helped me to realise what different types of abuse there were and that there are other people who have had the same experiences” “I loved working in a group. It was a relaxed atmosphere and everyone was able to discuss things. It makes you feel not alone, listening to other people discuss their experiences. And we got treated to chocolate biscuits” “You think „no one will ever do that to me again‟ and then here I am a year later thinking „is it me‟? The course helped me understand more and get more confident. Now I think I would recognise quicker and be able to stop it (relationship) at the first warning sign” “I felt like I was grieving. For my old life, what I hoped for my marriage, for the person I thought he was. The counselling helped me make sense of my feelings and the courses helped get me strong. I know now that it wasn‟t my fault and I don‟t feel like a victim at all now”

5. Domestic abuse services must be gender appropriate - Domestic abuse is a gendered issue with the majority of victims being female. (Women‟s Aid 2010). However, all victims of domestic abuse need gender appropriate services. CWA offers an all female staff team with women only services and works closely with ARCH (a local provider) to ensure that any male referrals are opened to a male support worker. 

“After the rapes I felt really scared by men. If the person you love and trust can do that to you, what hell can strangers put you through? It was really important that I knew the phone would never be answered by a man. Over time this did get better but at first, even a deep voice scared the s*** out of me” “I don‟t think I could have coped with a bloke as a support worker. Just having to tell someone what had been happening was horrible, I couldn‟t have told a bloke”

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In Our Own Words 6. Personalised support and the quality of relationships - Victims of domestic abuse do not want to keep repeating their story to multiple agencies and prefer to have a consistent contact to recognise and respond to their multiple and complex needs. Tailoring support to individual service users, as happens at CWA is now widely recognised as increasing the effectiveness of interventions (Barrow Cadbury Trust, 2005, Lost in Transition). Developing high quality trusting relationships is a key factor in the success or failure of a support relationship. According to the CWA service user survey, it is important to victims of domestic abuse that their needs are met holistically. In particular, victims of domestic abuse appreciate „drop in‟ type facilities.    

“When you come out of a situation so traumatised, it is really important that you can talk to and trust your support worker, You want to talk to the same person” “Sometimes I thought she was a bit harsh. But she was honest with me and now I realise that she pushed me when I needed it and I wouldn‟t be here today if it wasn‟t for her” “I can be fine one minute, then a text message or phone call can get me in a state and I know I can ring my support worker or drop in (to the Lily Jones Support Centre) and someone will help me out” “My key worker has helped me to gain the confidence to sort out my own problems but I know they are there in a crisis”

7. Specific, age appropriate interventions and support for children and young people - Domestic abuse in a family environment is always emotional abuse of the children in that family. Children need specialist support and recovery programmes to break the cycle of abuse. Young people in abusive relationships also need support to understand the issues and stop the abuse.   

“I was really shy and thought it was normal for your boyfriend to get mad at you. Working with (CWA support worker)made me realise it‟s not ok and now I feel stronger” “My dad made my mum cry a lot. I love him but I feel bad about it. Families are confusing” “I didn‟t go to school „cos I can‟t leave my mum on her own. I worried about what she will do. Now we both go to the centre. They got me a bike and now I go to school. I‟ve had 84% attendance since September”

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In Our Own Words 8. Continuity, flexibility and longer term support – research on the needs of socially excluded people (Social Inclusion Task Force, 2008 Home Office)has found that sustained, flexible support over time is essential in making sure victims of domestic abuse go on to lead healthy and safe future lives. It is widely accepted that women may leave an abusive relationship an average of 37 times before finally leaving. Many of these families are dipping in and out of services with chaotic patterns of crisis and stability over long periods of time. Domestic abuse is unique in that victims are often tracked, stalked, harassed and murdered after leaving the perpetrator. There is no time limit on this and a change or problem in the perpetrators life will often lead to renewed attacks on a previous victim. Crewe Women‟s Aid is unique in offering leisure and social activities that have no time limit; enabling service users to maintain a connection with the service should they need to re-engage on a more formal basis. The CWA service user survey indicates the importance of continuity, flexibility and long term support.   

“I worked with (support worker) for 18 months and now I go to coffee and chat every once in a while. It has really helped me feel independent but still supported” “I‟m not working with (support worker) any more but I know I can pop in or ring any time if I have a problem” “Everything had been settled for two years and then stuff with the divorce got him all riled up, now I‟m back needing CWA again”

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In Our Own Words 9. CWA Monitoring Information Service Users In total 157 adult service users and 283 children received support during April 2010 to September 2011. Of the adults:       

11% were from Ethnic Minorities 59% suffered mental health problems 53% suffered physical injury 26% had issues with substance misuse 27% lost their jobs 89% claimed benefits Three women had no recourse to public funding

There were 567 referrals into the service. Of those not opened as cases:     

35% no longer wanted our support Less than 1% were males who were re-referred to more appropriate services 16% had no recourse to public funding (CWA is limited by funding as to how many such cases can be supported at any one time) 28% were referred to refuges out of area 20% were not accepted after risk assessment and interview (this is most often related to safety issues for other service users)

CWA recorded referral sources for service users brought into service are shown in the pie chart below Fig. 2 Referrals

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In Our Own Words Ages of Service Users Review of the ages of service users shows that in the 18 months from April 2010 to September 2011, the average age of adults within the service was 22.2 years of age. The youngest woman accessing refuge was 16 years old and the oldest was 78 years old. Both ethnicity and age are similar to the analysis of the ages of women referred to CWA in the same period; this demonstrate that service users accessing services correspond to those referred indicating that the service is meeting the need within the local community. Fig 6. Ages of referred adults

357 children and young people aged 0-19 were supported by CWA. Domestic abuse services typically target support at the non abusive parent fleeing the abusive relationship. These figures demonstrate the desperate need for tailored services at children and young people.

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In Our Own Words Accessed Services Analysis of the services accessed by service users that are routinely recorded reveals that financial problems and in particular the difficulty in claiming benefits, were the issues that most affected service users. The availability and range of services accessed are good examples of the wrap around care and flexibility that are so valued by CWA service users. Fig 3. Accessed Services

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In Our Own Words Outcomes for Service Users Women and children accessing CWA services often present with complex needs and multiple problems. The range of support available and the specialist expertise of staff are an excellent example of domestic abuse services. Outcomes recorded for service users include: o Three women gaining employment for the first time o Five young people accessing specialist therapeutic programmes as part of our pilot Acorns and Changing Places Programme o One young person increasing school attendance from 38% to 89% across three terms o One young mum supported by her key worker as a birth partner o four service users becoming volunteers Fig 4. Outcomes

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In Our Own Words 10.

About the Service User Evaluation

The CWA service user evaluation involved interviewing twenty eight service users. Thirty three adults participated in focus group discussions and eight young people were polled about their views of the service. The survey was conducted by volunteers who were relatively new to the service (not ex service users and under six months as a volunteer) and whose experience equipped them to undertake the in depth questionnaires and case studies. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty eight women. Six were from minority ethnic backgrounds; seventeen experienced mental health problems; twenty two had children; sixteen were current service users and twelve were ex-service users. Most interviews were conducted face to face but eight had to be conducted by telephone. The analysis of the interview responses revealed that women had been referred to CWA via a number of sources. However, it was notable that 25% of the women had not been in contact with other services and had referred themselves. The women who were interviewed were asked a series of semi-structured questions, one of which invited them to tell their „storiesâ€&#x;. These have been anonymised and replicated, with permission as a series of short case studies (See Appendix 1). However in summary the qualitative data revealed a number of key features in the experience of CWA services. In particular, the analysis revealed that many of the women had experienced difficulties and trauma in their early lives and had long histories of stressful events and circumstances. It was also clear that many had been exposed to domestic abuse as a child. Just under a third said that they had been physically or emotionally bullied at school or in the family. Just two women were currently working. Many had experienced (or were experiencing) periods of poverty and debt; and the majority of the women interviewed were, or had, lived in insecure or temporary accommodation with over a third having experienced at least one period of homelessness necessitating crisis accommodation.

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In Our Own Words Many of the factors and issues the women had contended with in their lives were interrelated and overlapped creating a multiplicity of needs including mental ill health, substance misuse and poverty as a result of the domestic abuse The women who were interviewed were asked what they thought were the outcomes of their engagement with CWA and how the service had helped them. The young adults‟ responses from both the interviews and focus groups are reported throughout this report. Wherever possible, women‟s own words have been used. It was clear from both the focus groups and the in-depth interviews that the women who use CWA think highly of the organisation and value the help they have received. In many cases women describe it as having been crucial to their survival: „CWA has been a lifeline to me‟ and „CWA was a refuge when things were really difficult. I spent every day here.‟ Others said it gave them the help they needed to make a fresh start or resume a more normal life again: „They just helped me to get the ball rolling again so I could get on with my life.‟

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In Our Own Words 11.

Recommendations

Violence against women and girls is high on the government‟s agenda, with an emphasis on prevention and support. However, the current economic climate has hit specialist charitable organisations like Crewe Women‟s Aid particularly hard over the last twelve months and the government‟s proposed austerity measures will have an even greater impact over the next four years. With this in mind, the following recommendations necessarily take full account of the difficulties faced by the organisation within the current financial climate.

1.

Safe, Emergency accommodation is vital. CWA must maintain safe accommodation for up to ten families and if possible, plan to increase this over the next few years to meet levels of demand

2.

Maintain current levels of one to one support, counselling, advice and recovery programmes

3.

Basic needs must be met and are vital to the support of women and children (Food, Clothing, Transport)

4.

CWA should develop a promotions strategy to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the services available

5.

Increase opportunities for volunteering within CWA for current and ex service users

6.

Focus on further developing children‟s and young people‟s therapeutic programmes, learning from the pilot Acorns and Changing Places

7.

Develop further opportunities for collaborative working across Cheshire East

8.

Expand opportunities for leisure activity groups – including linking in with external recreational, leisure services and social media

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In Our Own Words 9.

10.

Develop a service user led befriending and support service to complement existing services. This would involve training a small group of the most confident service users to provide peer support in order to: -

Assist in the use of computers and accessing information;

-

When appropriate accompanying women to appointments and on necessary visits and trips;

-

Providing information on accessing new opportunities (e.g. college courses, volunteering, community activities etc).

-

Accompanying women on social outings.

A further increase in service user involvement would provide more opportunities for development for women as well as using this excellent knowledge base to improve services for all.

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In Our Own Words Appendix 1 Six of Our stories 1. “I met him through a friend. We started dating and at first it was lovely, we had some great times together, I trusted him. He didn‟t trust me at all. It started with controlling behaviour and jealousy. He thought I was cheating on him, he said he was insecure because of his past. It got worse when he started to check (my) underwear. The jealousy progressed to name calling and emotional abuse. At first I fought back but it just made him worse and I couldn‟t live like that so I stopped. The emotional and physical abuse were unpredictable, I didn‟t know when or how he would be and it made (me) lose confidence, self-esteem and independence. I didn‟t go out or see anyone, I tried to make him happy with me. I got so low and the emotional abuse got worse along with the physical abuse as I got lower and lower. The worst night he was calm to begin with, I went to cuddle him but he didn‟t want a cuddle, he wanted oral sex. It wasn‟t good enough and then the violence started. He hit me over the head with a bottle, kicked and beat me. The next day he told me it was my own fault that I‟d made him, it was my own doing. The kids came down during the incident which I felt awful about. The next morning my cousin took me to A&E. I was so ashamed that I lied in A&E and told them I fell downstairs. I took the kids and stayed in a hotel, I was dead confused, I rang hi,. I wanted him to say sorry and explain why. He said it was all my fault. When the kids went to school the next day, they told the teachers what they had seen so the police came round to the house to talk to me and my husband with social services. They said I couldn‟t be under the same roof with my husband and so I ended up with CWA who placed me in the refuge. I was there for three months. It is hard in the refuge, so many families with different personalities but the staff are great”

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In Our Own Words 2. “I met him through work & after the birth of our first daughter he started hitting me. I needed help – from anywhere really, so I made a telephone call to CWA. The service had helped me by giving me support & being there, listened to me & supported me all the time. They are supporting me whilst I‟m having appointments at solicitors & court appearances. I wouldn‟t manage without them” 3. “I met my husband at 17 and was married at 21. He was very violent from outset. I thought it would get better when I was pregnant but didn‟t. I just thought I had to get on with it. I didn‟t tell anyone, I thought it was my fault and I didn‟t have anywhere to go. I had 5 children. I feel like I had no self respect, I became dependent upon my husband. I left a few times but went back because of the children. Children are meant to have a proper family. I kept the abuse hidden from my children. They may have heard but mostly it happened when no-one was there. Things got worse as the children grew up. I was inches away from losing my life at one stage. My husband was arrested and convicted following one court appearance. I went back to my husband after the conviction. I hoped things would settle down. For two years there was a quiet spell. I am from a very religious community and felt ashamed. I kept it all so quiet although I often had bruises around my neck. I left when I suspected I had been poisoned in my food. I stayed at friends homes for a while until met a DV Outreach worker in Northwich who got me referral to CWA. I am now getting divorced. My children are grown up but don‟t speak to me really, my husband has turned them all against me, which is hard. I could never have made this move without Crewe Women‟s Aid. I have a fresh start in a bungalow. I would be dead by now, this is the best thing I could have done” I met him in 2001, we both worked nights (supermarket) in Crewe. We moved in together within months of meeting. From the outset there were problems, he was jealous, needy, clingy and possessive. At first I felt quite flattered by the thought someone needed me that much. I thought it showed he loved me and it felt nice to be loved.

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In Our Own Words I couldn‟t do anything or go anywhere without him. I went on my sister‟s hen night and he said he‟d been on a train station shivering and crying all night, worrying about me. One day his brother-in-law dropped load of pornography off that belonged to him. This really bothered me but I didn‟t want to make a fuss really. My daughter was only 11 so I stood up to him and said I wasn‟t having it. It went into the bin and I thought that was that. Next he became very sexually demanding he brought home sex toys and a camcorder to record us having sex. I didn‟t like being filmed. He would drink a lot and listen to music, once I woke up and he was forcing himself into me having anal sex. I asked him to get rid of tape he‟d made but found tapes even behind the fridge. The relationship grew more & more volatile & my mental health deteriorated. I then found out he had history of drugs, had been homeless and a heroin addict. He would tell me horrible things like committing rapes. The violent arguments & rows, intensified even after the birth of our child. If we argued, I tried to initiate sex to stop the argument, I found it very confusing. In one argument I ended up rolling off the bed. He grabbed me around throat and raped me. Two weeks later I took scissors and cut my wrists. I became passive and didn‟t want to rock the boat. He was a liar, a manipulator. I felt he was pushing all family away. He was very manipulative; got me to sign over pension fund, excluding family. He was always gambling (online, bookmakers). He smashed house up, throwing himself around floor, groped (me), (I) retaliated & bashed him over head with packet of biscuits. Punched (me) –fell to the floor. He rang police & ambulance, said (I‟d) fallen over. I disclosed to police previous rape attacks. Police asked him to leave. He left August 2010, then started sending text messages threatening me! My Support Worker helped me get it all sorted, understand and move on” 4. “This is an essential service because people have forgotten how to behave to each other, they have lost the kindness. My husband wasn‟t really that violent and I felt guilty for leaving. My experiences weren‟t that bad. If I could of had separate bedrooms and not have to have sex I would of stayed. My husband was jealous and possessive. I compare my relationship with my parent‟s relationship. I feel really annoyed that I haven‟t had anyone kind in my life”

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In Our Own Words 5. “I met him in a club in Nantwich. We moved in together, engaged within 2 months- the charmer! We married about 1 year later and it all changed. At first he said I wasn‟t cooking...his meds...lost keys, then he started hitting me. I suffered in silence. I told no-one. I kept saying he needed to go to Anger Management – he wouldn‟t. I stayed because of my daughter, then one day I found out he had been having an affair for 2 years, he refused to move out, my life was horrendous. I was referred to CWA by my GP. I will sing their praises. Without them I wouldn‟t of got as far as what I have got. They have been amazing. Sorted out housing, security, different courses, appointments. Without the organization women like myself would not be able to move on. You meet other women like yourself. You don‟t feel alone.” 6. “I was with him for 20 years. We were married for 16 years. When I was unfit to work –financial problems began. I got blamed for not being able to work. I had lots of medical issues, my Mum died, so he was left with a „weaker person‟ He felt this was my fault, he had to be the only wage earner. He started going out all night and drinking, having an affair, he started saying cruel things to me, calling me a bad mother, going on about my weight gain etc. I had enough, I took a bottle of pills and a bottle of vodka and ended up in hospital. My family then got involved, my husband admitted to having an affair. I couldn‟t live with this any longer. I couldn‟t go straight to the refuge as I had a dog and needed to rehouse the dog. Once I had done this I came to the refuge. I got plenty of emotional and practical support. They acknowledged my whole issues”

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In Our Own Words Appendix 2 Organisations responding to the CWA Partner Survey

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In Our Own Words