This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.
This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.
Domestic abuse means an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by a partner, ex-partner or family member. It is based on one person having power or control over another, and it often gets worse over time. Domestic abuse doesn’t just mean physical violence, and it can include:
Forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so called “honour crimes” that are perpetrated primarily by family members.
Anyone can be abused, regardless of their social background, age, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity.
Domestic abuse doesn’t just happen between partners, it can also happen within families or in shared homes.
Domestic Violence doesn’t always mean physical violence.
If you feel scared of your partner or someone at home because of things that they say and do, or are forced to change your behaviour because you are frightened of their reaction, you might be experiencing domestic abuse.
It is important to remember that this is not your fault.
Does your partner or someone at home:
We know it can be difficult to talk about what is happening, but telling someone can really help.
Contact BCWA, and we will help you to get the support that you need. We will believe you. We will listen to you, support you and give you time and space to decide what you want to do. We won’t judge you because of what you say or force you to make a decision you do not want to make. We can help you with choices on how to move forward.
Our support workers are called IDVAs and Domestic Abuse Advocates. They are trained specialists who support people who are at risk of harm from intimate partners, ex-partners or family members.
They will work with you one to one and support you both emotionally and practically to enable you to make choices and plans towards your long-term safety.
Although IDVAs work closely with other organisations to ensure you get the best support, they are independent of all statutory agencies including the Police, Local Authority and Social Services.
Our IDVA service can support both women and men over the age of 16 in Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall.
My support worker has been exceptionally supportive and there for me at any point when I needed her. She reassured me on many occasions that the choice had to be mine. She was not judgmental and understood why my decision was so hard
The things that they can help with include:
You could try to gain some protection from your abuser by applying for a civil injunction or protection order. An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do or not to do something.
There are two main types of injunctions available under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996:
A non-molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children.
An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you may want to apply for an occupation order.
MARAC stands for Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. It is a regular meeting where workers from different agencies (include IDVAs, police, probation services, NHS, schools, and social services) discuss the wellbeing of women and their children identified as at high risk of serious harm from domestic violence. MARACs co-operate on safety and support planning to reduce the risk of people becoming repeat victims.
If you are referred to a MARAC, you will usually be consulted and your confidentiality is respected. You will not need to attend meetings, your IDVA will be your representative ensuring that your voice is heard and feeding back to you about the support other agencies are offering.
Following intervention by a MARAC and an IDVA service, up to 60% of domestic abuse victims report no further violence.
If you would like to read more, you can find lots of practical information and guidance in Women’s Aid’s Survivor’s Handbook
We will work with you in a confidential way. This means that we will not share any information with your family, the police or anyone else without your permission.
The only time we will ever share any information without your permission is if we are worried about a child or vulnerable person’s safety.
Going through domestic abuse can damage your self- esteem and make you feel very isolated and even ashamed of what has happened to you. Being in a group where others have had similar experiences can really help: it offers a safe space to share experiences and feel you are not alone.
A course for women who want to learn more about domestic violence, recognise warning signs, and improve their self-esteem.
A course helping women to understand how abuse may have affected them, build their confidence, understand women’s rights, and recognise their own strengths.
“It’s good to listen to others’ stories because you don’t feel so odd and lonely… and I learned a lot of things from the programme… if it wasn’t for the programme, I would still be in the same situation but now I can live my life feeling secure, loved and happy”
Our safe refuges offer secure and supportive accommodation for people who need to leave their homes because of domestic abuse. Our services are open 24 hours a day to victims with or without children, and regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity or sexuality.
If you do not feel safe in your home, we can aim to find you space for you in a refuge within Sandwell. We can also find you refuge space elsewhere in the country if you choose. If you do not want to leave your home, we can talk to you about appropriate services that you can access – just call us and we will talk to you about your options.
“When I came here I was scared and lacked confidence, full of guilt and shame. Without the refuge I felt I would have ended my life or cracked up. I can’t express how much they helped me to get to where I am today. I’m just glad there are places like the refuge. They helped me to understand what I suffered was not my fault. My whole life has changed and I am ready to face the world outside.”
If you do not feel safe in your home, please call our 24-hour number on 0121 552 6448. We will try to find you a refuge space in Sandwell and if we cannot find you a space in our own refuges we will support you to find safe accommodation elsewhere.
We will talk to you about your needs and those of your children, in order to try to find the best space for you. The things we will need to know include what has happened, the area that you are at risk in, (where the perpetrator and their family live), any access or support needs you have, and anything else which helps us to understand what you need to be safe and secure.
We understand that often survivors have to leave their homes in a hurry and are not able to bring many things with them. We will help you by providing toiletries and a food parcel when you arrive in refuge, and we can also help you to get clothes and other items that you might need.
If you can, please try to bring the following things with you when you leave your home:
Our refuge accommodation includes a range of options and we will try to find a place that best meets your needs and the needs of your children. We have a large purpose-built refuge for women and children where each family has their own flat, with shared facilities including a lounge, playroom, garden and laundry. We also have safe-houses dispersed in the community where you could live more independently. We have accommodation that is accessible for people with disabilities or access needs.
In our refuge, residents enjoy a range of positive activities that include parties, trips and courses for both adults and children so that you can relax, learn new skills, and spend time with others who have had similar experiences. However while you stay with us you can be as sociable or as quiet as you want to.
Refuge is a confidential space and everyone staying there needs to agree to keep the address secret to ensure the safety of all. However we do bring in visiting professionals such as health visitors, carers, children’s workers and other services that people staying with us might need.
We will listen to you, respect your decisions, and give you time, space and support. Within our refuges we can provide:
Children are very welcome at our refuges, and we will support both you and your children to take time and space to come to terms with what has happened. Living with abuse can affect both you and your children in different ways, so we will help you to identify any needs you might have, and support you to meet these such as offering parenting support or therapeutic work.
We run family activities to help you spend time having fun with your children and look at communication and relationship building. We can also help you to find local school places for your children and build links with other organisations that have a role in children’s lives.
“BCWA has given us our lives back and the belief that we are in control of our own futures… We have always felt listened to, believed, supported, guided, not judged and been allowed to make decisions about our own lives in our own time. We have been inspired to believe in and respect who we are as individuals”
We offer domestic abuse support to people living in Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall. If you live outside these areas please scroll down to ‘quick links’ to find details of other regional services.
More information on the Freedom Programme including a breakdown of topics covered
More information on the Power to Change including a breakdown of topics covered
A poster promoting our domestic abuse support services, focussing on LGBTT relationships
If you would like to order leaflets and posters to display in your settings please use this form