Trigger warning

This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.

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Domestic Violence &
Abuse services

Black Country Women’s Aid supports people experiencing domestic violence and abuse in Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall. We offer sensitive and holistic support that help victims of abuse and their children to escape from violence, cope with trauma and rebuild their lives.

 

Our Independent Domestic Violence Advice Service offers support in the community and at court, and our refuges offer a safe place for survivors and their children fleeing domestic abuse.

What is Domestic 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:

  • Coercive control: a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence;
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Financial abuse;
  • Harassment and stalking;
  • Online or digital abuse;

Forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so called “honour crimes” that are perpetrated primarily by family members.

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icon representing domestic abuse for the Black Country Women's Aid domestic abuse services

Is it happening to you?

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:

  • criticize you, put you down or call you names?
  • make you feel scared to disagree with them or anger them?
  • constantly check up on you or follow you?
  • make it difficult for you to see family and friends?
  • ever hit you?
  • withhold money, food or affection from you?
  • make you do things you are uncomfortable with?
  • stop you from going to work or college?
  • threaten you by telling you that you could be deported because of your immigration status?
  • threaten to take your children away?

 

Telling someone can really help.

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.

Getting in touch

Please contact us to speak in confidence to an advisor and find out more about how we can support you.

If you are from an agency and would like to refer someone you are working with please scroll down for a referral form and details of our secure email.

Support in the community: Independent Domestic Violence Advice (IDVA) Service

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.

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icon representing support workers for the Black Country Women's Aid therapeutic services

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

How can an IDVA support you?

The things that they can help with include:

 

  • Listening to you and being there for you as someone to talk to in confidence about what has happened and how you feel;
  • Advice and support planning tailored to your needs;
  • Sharing information with you so that you feel empowered to make decisions that are right for you;
  • Assessing your risk level and developing safety plans with you including practical steps to keep you and your children safe;
  • Helping you to understand how the criminal justice process works, explaining what will happen if you report to the police, and what happens in court. We can also support you at court and afterwards;

 

  • Information about civil orders that can help protect you from your abuser;
  • Helping you access other services who can help e.g. refuge, housing, immigration, counselling and legal services;
  • Maximising your safety by working closely with other agencies to reduce the risk of harm that you face, and representing you at MARAC;
  • Group work and activities;
  • Interpreting services if you need them.

Frequently asked questions

What are civil orders?

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
  • An occupation order

 

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.

What is a MARAC?

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.

Where can I find out more?

If you would like to read more, you can find lots of practical information and guidance in Women’s Aid’s Survivor’s Handbook

Confidentiality

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.

Domestic Abuse Support Groups

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.

The Freedom Programme

A course for women who want to learn more about domestic violence, recognise warning signs, and improve their self-esteem.

The Power to Change

A course helping women to understand how abuse may have affected them, build their confidence, understand women’s rights, and recognise their own strengths.

You and Me, Mum

A course which empowers women to support their children after domestic abuse.

“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”

Image of bedroom for Black Country Women's Aid domestic violence refuge centre

Refuge

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.”

Refuge Questions

How do I access refuge?

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.

What do I need to bring with me?

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:

 

  • Identification and birth certificates for you and your children;
  • School and medical records;
  • Money, bankbooks, cheque book and credit and debit cards;
  • Keys for your house, car, and workplace;
  • Driving licence (if you have one) and car registration documents;
  • Prescribed medication, and vitamin supplements;
  • Cards or payment books for any welfare benefits you are entitled to;
  • Passports, visas and work permits of you have these;
  • Copies of documents relating to your housing (eg mortgage details or lease and rental agreements);
  • Current unpaid bills;
  • Insurance documents;
  • Address book, family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value;
  • Clothing and toiletries for you and your children;
  • Your children’s favourite small toys.

What is refuge like?

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.

What support will I get?

We will listen to you, respect your decisions, and give you time, space and support.  Within our refuges we can provide:

 

  • One to one emotional support, with time and space to come to terms with what has happened and how it may have affected you;
  • Support planning and safety planning tailored to your needs to help you plan your next steps;
  • Assistance with legal issues, such as civil and criminal cases, and child custody issues;
  • Support and advocacy with housing and setting up your new home or tenancy when you leave us;
  • Support to access welfare benefits, education, training and employment;
  • Culturally sensitive, multi lingual support including immigration advocacy and access to other agencies;
  • Access to counselling if you need it;
  • Support and advocacy with any statutory agencies that you are working with such as Children’s Social Care;
  • Group work and activities include ESOL courses, confidence building, and the Power to Change;
  • Referrals and signposting to other services that you might need such as legal services, community organisations, health and wellbeing services;

What about my children?

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.

A message from Black Country Women’s Aid’s Client Forum

“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”

Black Country Women's Aid space

Service locations

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.

Domestic Abuse Resources

IDVA leaflet

A leaflet with more information about our IDVA service

The Freedom Programme leaflet

More information on the Freedom Programme including a breakdown of topics covered

The Power to Change leaflet

More information on the Power to Change including a breakdown of topics covered

You and Me, Mum leaflet

More information on You and Me, Mum including a breakdown of topics covered

BCWA Domestic Abuse services poster

A poster promoting our domestic abuse support services

BCWA LGBTT domestic abuse poster

A poster promoting our domestic abuse support services, focussing on LGBTT relationships

Leaflet and poster order form

If you would like to order leaflets and posters to display in your settings please use this form

Agency referral form: IDVA

Professionals: please use this form to make referrals for support

Domestic abuse: don’t suffer in silence

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