Pathways Family Support Centre
Working Together to end Domestic Abuse
Barnsley DV Group Registered Charity No: 1085073
“Little did I know in December 1994 when I answered an advertisement for volunteers for a new service, that I would become the Chair of Barnsley Domestic Violence Group. This year, as Pathways celebrates another birthday, I feel sad and glad. Sad because I have said many times that I would like to see the organisation close, because then there would be no domestic abuse. Glad because we are a service that provides support, understanding and hope.
BDVG is about empowerment of abused women and men. There is a better future and the sun will shine again if an abused person is brave enough to make the first step into freedom.
To everyone that suffers or has suffered domestic abuse - make the first step to becoming a survivor. Please contact BDVG or pass the knowledge of its existence of the group to someone that you know is suffering.”
DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE - Tricia (Mrs PM Roberts) - Chair
Client services have been identified in direct relation to client needs. Our services are accessible, confidential, supportive, appropriate, professional and free to any adult, male or female, who is currently, or has previously experienced domestic abuse. With assistance and ongoing support, added to the raft of services Pathways has at its disposal, people can begin to recognise abusive behaviours and eventually, move on with their lives. This work is long term, sadly there is no ‘quick fix’, it is about steadily building the client’s self esteem and confidence and sharing the knowledge to assist them to make informed choices about their future.
How do you begin to alter public opinion and challenge deeply held views which have been around for nearly 4,000 years? The backdrop to domestic abuse is that historically, women and children were seen as belonging to a man with violence being used as a tool of legitimate control. Throughout history, the rights and regulations pertaining to this control (often termed castigation, discipline, or chastisement) of a man's wife and children have been codified in various laws, both civil and religious.
Let’s go back in time…
Changing hearts and minds isn’t easy and in view of the above - it's truly a miracle that groups such as Pathways are here at all! A testament to the progress made over the last few centuries - but the belief that bigger people have the right to enforce their will on smaller, weaker people - is still very much with us.
In the last 2 decades, a great deal of research has been undertaken to find what predisposes women to become victims of domestic violence/abuse. What they have found, of course, is nothing. Domestic abuse cuts across all lines of race, class, and culture. The only things shared by victims of domestic abuse are their experiences of abuse and the fact that the greatest majority of them are women. Researchers looking for similarities that predispose victims to rape have come up just as empty-handed. Rape victims have nothing in common other than their experience and the fact that almost all of them are female.
In the 1980’s, a number of studies questioned men who had been convicted for domestic violence and rape. In their prison interviews, the researchers found that rapists and abusers do have something in common. They all shared 2 beliefs:
1. that violence is a legitimate way of solving problems, and
2. that it is proper for a man to control women
Raising awareness then is about so much more than informing, its about changing the hearts and minds, so that real change can happen - this work must continue!
1. Where do your referrals come from?
Referrals are received from Police, Probation, Social Services Children & Families Team, Intensive Prevention Unit, Family Support Unit, GP’s, CPN’s, Waid, Victim Support and other statutory and voluntary agencies – however, clients often self refer. When clients make contact via the helpline, we may be given very little personal information – (if they are still within the relationship then they are too fearful to give a name or area). Calls from male victims are received from all over the UK, as there is only a very limited service available across the country for men.
2 . Is the counselling service available to everyone?
Pathways counselling is available to any adult (male and female) who is currently or has previously suffered domestic abuse. Counselling availability in the last financial year was 4,000 hours.
3 . Is it free, is there a charge or is it subsidised?
Currently the counselling service is funded by Barnsley PCT. There is no charge for any BDVG service.
4 . From the people using the service, do you keep records of effectiveness?
Clients complete evaluations, however, in general, it is very hard to keep statistics regarding people moving on. Clients are offered a range of options, which option they choose is very much their decision and we do not pressure them one way or the other. For people in this category, using the service in ‘secret’, to make contact and seek follow up could put them in danger.
If we move someone to a place of safety outside the area, it is unlikely we would know an outcome i.e. whether they returned home or not. Many clients will not seek refuge for various reasons, for people who have pets, they will not leave them behind (In a survey in refuges in Ireland a high % (above 70%) of women reported their pets had been threatened, harmed or killed.
Some people find it very difficult to move on with their lives. In addition, instead of incidents ending with the relationship, they can often increase and many experience harassment and stalking post leaving. When children are involved, contact arrangements are traumatic and perpetrators may use the contact as an excuse to further abuse the ex partner. Given the complex nature of domestic abuse, clients may contact when an incident or crisis occur and access the service, then things settle down at home etc – we would see them again when the next incident occurs. In short, some clients dip in and out of the service.
5 .What do you think are the strengths of the service?
Pathways is responsive to each client's needs and provides:
• Free and confidential services
• Crisis service through to long term support
• Informing people of their options when they had felt totally helpless and disempowered. For many, suicide is considered a viable option (25% of all attempted suicides cite domestic violence as a major factor).
• A holistic service – listening to the client and any action plans are client led.
• Each individual has their own range of issues, their relationship, debt, children’s behaviour and/or access issues, injunctions, non molestation and residency orders, divorce, property issues (we can arrange for a solicitor to attend Pathways should the client be afraid to be seen going into a solicitors office), police, housing, place of safety, depression and stress, lack of confidence and esteem – the list is endless. We work with the client at their own pace and address issues in turn.
6 . If an abused woman and child visited the Pathways, what help, care and support would they typically receive?
It would be usual for the woman and child to be separated prior to the session commencing. This allows the client to speak freely and the child would not become distressed, either at the content of the conversation or by seeing their parent upset. Also, it ensures the child does not innocently relay what has occurred to the abuser! Mothers tend to think children are unaware of the situation within the home, many will say their abuser is a good father. It would be inappropriate to discuss issues in front of a child. The lady would be made comfortable, offered tea or coffee, and then gently asked how we could assist. Issues would then be dealt with as the client had prioritised them. If the abuse were active, then we would go through her options - place of safety, benefits, legal remedies, police involvement etc. I must point out there is no ‘typical’ case.
When a child protection situation arises, the mother is advised to contact Social Services. This is done with the workers present, if the mother refused, then Pathways would make the referral. Much reassurance is needed, as the most common threat a mother would hear from her abuser is that he will report her to social services as an unfit mother.
7. Where did Pathways originate?
Pathways (BDVG) was formed in 1995 to respond to the need, identified by many different agencies and organisation, to offer services to victims of domestic abuse. Over these past 10 years the group has survived on minimal funding from many different sources, including lottery funding, trust funds, local government programme funding, project funding and in 2004 funding was obtained from the Local authority - it must be added that without the assistance of the Local Authority, Pathways would have closed… The range of services provided has increased over the years and changed in response to our increasing knowledge about the needs of victims of domestic abuse.
New premises were acquired in 2007, as our Doncaster Road site was to be developed. The new premises at Peel Parade had to be refurbished to suit our operation and so many people held events and raffles to help us raise the £40,000 costs.