International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls

Helen Gore is Riverside's Head of Supported Housing

By: Helen Gore, Riverside Head of Supported Housing

When I hear the stories of women, many with children, whose physical and mental health were shattered by violence in the home, it’s harrowing.

Then, I hear the stories of those same women whose lives have been transformed.

Take Jane*, a 27-year-old with a young daughter. She was first assaulted by her ex-partner in 2012; he received a prison sentence. Then, 18 months ago, he broke into her home while Jane and her daughter slept and unleashed a much more serious attack on Jane.

He stamped on her head seven times, throttled her, pulled out clumps of hair and left her hospitalised. Her daughter was too frightened to look at her mother’s now unrecognisable face.

Riverside’s Floating Support Service stepped in. Each of our customers is appointed a personal Riverside support worker to create a bespoke plan. Our services support people practically – with tenancy for example, to help them integrate back into the community, with debt advice and a comprehensive support plan.

Riverside network of domestic abuse services provide this sort of specialist support to women and their children every day.  We also help perpetrators identify their behaviour by helping men understand how to develop stable relationships via the organisation’s ‘Healthy Relationships Training’ which is part of a trail from one of its national Programmes of Support.  Through this, staff are skilled to provide training to young men who have been identified as needing support to help them stop their own abusive behaviour.

A risk assessment helps us ensure they receive the best possible support for their needs; whether it be a perpetrator programme for the couple who wish to stay in a relationship, or referrals to partnering agencies for counselling, refuge or police support.

We’ve developed partnerships with agencies such as SeaChange, who lead a programme to identify and change abusive behaviour. We also offer a Grow Trainee scheme, giving skills, confidence and employability skills to our customers within Riverside’s schemes.

It’s all about building self-confidence, providing tools to move on and be empowered, supporting children too who have witnessed violence in the home. It’s a holistic approach that delivers results.

For Jane, Riverside’s Floating Support services took ‘a lot of weight’ off her shoulders. They helped her plot out a path to get her life back on track.

Jane is now on our GROW trainee scheme. It stands for Giving Real Opportunities for Work.

She is now confident, and feels in charge of her future with her daughter. She has safety plans in place with the police when her ex-partner is released from prison, and says her anxiety is alieved because she knows she can contact the right support if she ever was in such a situation again.

“I’ve stood up and took control of my own life rather than it being controlled by somebody else… Now I feel like I’m me again. I’m concentrating on my career and my daughter.”

Normality, friendships, motherhood, and career – all back on track – the future is back where it should be, fulfilling and lived with hope.

On November 25, it’s the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls. I can’t think of a better way to mark it, then honouring the transformative work of Riverside’s domestic abuse support teams across the UK.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity and safety of the case study.