Delivered one-on-one or in small groups, the SVS Living Safe Women’s SAFE programme helps women who have been in or are currently in relationship(s) characterised by violence and/or abuse. The service is customisable. It teaches skills to enhance family relationships, skills to keep women and children safe, and explores how to manage anger and feel more empowered.
At the end of every quarter we survey the participants who are finishing to assess if they felt they’d achieved the goals set out for themselves. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“Absolutely, but now I have more of an idea of what to work on.”
“I have some positive goals to aim for and have made great friends.”
“I learned I have the ability to face new goals.”
“I’m feeling safe to move on with life.”
“I feel I am so much more confident now.”
One of the participants told us that indeed, they had an increased understanding of the power and control tactics involved with abusive relationships. She said, “I didn’t realise what a really bad situation I was in.”
Clinicians teach the participants practical tools that they can use both inside the course and afterwards on their own. One of those is the Power and Control Wheel.
The Power and Control Wheel provides a model for understanding that violence is part of a pattern of interchangeable and reinforcing behaviours, rather than isolated incidents of abuse. The inside of the wheel, between the spokes, are the tactics that are used to achieve power and control. While the tactics work, the person exerting the power and control doesn’t have to resort to physical or sexual violence.
One of the participants talked about the Power and Control Wheel and being able to recognise what she and her children needed and deserved. She also says she practices taking time-outs when she needs them.
Other practical tools the women said were helpful included:
“Knowing that I can say no, taking time for myself, and mindfulness”
“Self-care, exercise, setting goals,”
“I refer to my safety plan, I stop and breathe, and I use ‘I’ to identify my feelings.”
The most important things that these women say they gained from the programme include:
“Feeling understood and not alone, protecting myself is ok. My daughter is better off this way and I made the right choice.”
“Strengthening self-confidence, dealing with emotion as it happens, coping with stress / crisis in my life.”
“A vision for what can motivate me in my life. Confidence. I see different views. I am more positive and I allow myself to be vulnerable with the opposite people.”
“Realising what I want and need. It’s ok to be angry, it’s what we do that counts.”
“Realising that things do get better, the storm will pass.”
Finally, 100 percent of survey respondents said they would recommend the course to other women. “It really opens up your perspective on the situation,” one said. Another said: “It’s holistic, very well thought-out and supportive, very enlightening.”