Advance is a woman’s organisation that offers services to women and is the lead provider of the Angelou Partnership. We began our work in 1998 as one of four organisations in the UK piloting a new approach to working with women experiencing domestic abuse, at high risk of violence and death – this is how our Domestic Abuse Programme developed. Our vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. Our mission is to prevent domestic and sexual violence against women by current or former partners or close family members, and the causes of women’s offending, by delivering high-quality services which meet their needs and lead them to live independent lives. We believe that women need support to identify they are experiencing domestic abuse and to get safe. We believe that women need a specialist service to reduce and end their offending which takes into account the caring role they often have for their children and helps them understand the reasons behind for their offending and to support underlying issues such as domestic abuse, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and poor mental health issues which affect women from both of our programmes of work .
In the Angelou Partnership we have a variety of domestic abuse workers who specialise in women at high risk, women with housing issues, women with problematic substance use issues, women with mental health issues, and the criminal justice system. We also offer group work sessions on the dynamics of domestic abuse and peer support sessions that include creative work such as flower making and yoga
Advance Domestic Abuse Programme – the work we do:
Immediate crisis intervention, risk assessment and safety planning
Support through criminal proceedings
Assistance around civil justice system
Support around the MARAC
Referrals to Sanctuary Scheme
Referrals to solicitors for legal advice
Signposting and referring and liaising with other agencies for specialist support including counselling, substance misuse & mental health services
Working as part of a co-ordinated response to implement safety measures for survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for abuse
Sarah[i] self-referred to Advance. Sarah disclosed that the alleged perpetrator is her husband of 20 years with whom she was residing in a private rented property.
Sarah disclosed that her relationship with her husband changed and recently she had become very afraid of him. Sarah disclosed that throughout her marriage he has controlled all aspects of her life, intimidating her with aggression and threatening with violence. Sarah explained that in the most recent months her husband has become increasingly controlling, excessively jealous and that she is under constant surveillance.
Over the last few months Sarah said that her husband tracked her whereabouts via GPS location, loitering at her workplace, and monitoring her emails and phone. Sarah regularly found her husband checking her phone in the early hours of the morning shadows her at her workplace while she is training clients and intimidates Sarah’s male clients and friends. Sarah’s husband was unsupportive of her work which caused her much distress at work, resulting in a disciplinary enquiry.
As a result of the domestic abuse Sarah desperately wished to flee her marriage.
The Advance IDVA provided specialist ongoing non judgemental support and regular updates. This included discussing the dynamics of the abuse and helping her to build her confidence and see that she was not at fault. The support covered a range of things form how to keep safe online, how the criminal justice system works, details of specialist trained lawyers to help in the civil court, and details of other Angelou Partners who are counsellors specialising in supporting women experiencing domestic abuse . It also included a support letter for her disciplinary hearing that resulted in her maintaining her job and evidence to help her to get legal aid so that she did not need to pay for a lawyer.
Sarah has since reported that her risk has reduced and she feels more confident of how to access support services and seeks help. She has also said that speaking to Advance was the first time that someone believed her. It gave her confidence and that working with Advance ‘has changed her life’.
[i] The name of this client has ben changed for the purposes of this case study