A week before the Corona virus starting keeping us all apart, we brought almost a hundred women and girls together! Each year we have a big celebration of our work, the women and girls who attend all of our projects come along, we invite funders and other professionals that we work alongside from across the city. It’s always an emotional, inspirational and fun event, and this year was no different.
Breathing Space Project has been providing domestic abuse support for women in Leeds for the last two and a half years, ending on 31st March 2020. The Department of Digital, Culture, Sport and Media funded the project through the Tampon Tax Fund. We have been working towards the project ending but the Corona Virus has disrupted the last few weeks of delivery as we have had to replace group work with telephone support. It is hard to finish a project at a time like this, and all the more important to celebrate the achievements of the women that attended.
Some of the women from our Breathing Space project are working with Tee Hogan of Teevision to create a film around their experiences. We have two aims for this piece of work, firstly that other women going through domestic abuse will hopefully feel like they are not alone and are encouraged not only to get help and support, but are also able to work out what support is right for them.
The film will also be a training tool for professionals. The women were reflecting on what it feels like to be properly heard, or not, and what it’s like to have been through trauma and then have to work with someone you don’t know, such as a new Social Worker.
Some of their messages to professionals were;
- Remember that we feel isolated and anxious
- Please pay full attention to the person you’re trying to help
- Professionals should work together when needed
- Women would like full feedback from MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences), they felt they were being spoken about, but don’t know what is being said.
Group members also said that they felt professionals didn’t always understand how complicated being in an abusive relationship is, that saying ‘just leave’ or ‘just call the police’ isn’t always helpful.
One woman said –
“I couldn’t call the police to my house if he was violent because I knew people who would make you disappear.”
They also talked about the fact that in multi-agency meetings, women and men were often held to different standards. So, if the child’s dad attended one meeting, they felt he was really praised, but if mum attended all of hers, but then missed one, she was judged much more harshly.
“He’s treated like a prince in meetings.”
The film is still in its early stages, but we’ll keep you posted and are looking forward to showing it to the public!