Lewisham Children & Family Centre

Domestic Abuse

Welcome to our domestic abuse page. Here you can find information and support around all forms of domestic abuse. You can find out about the programmes we run in Lewisham and local and national support services. 

Programme
Information

CODA
Programme

Freedom
Programme

Information
and Support

Domestic
Abuse Portal

Information on Domestic Abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

The Domestic Abuse Act was passed in 2021, which provides a new definition of domestic abuse as follows:

PART 1Definition of “domestic abuse”

1Definition of “domestic abuse”

(1)This section defines “domestic abuse” for the purposes of this Act.

(2)Behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is “domestic abuse” if—

(a)A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and

(b)the behaviour is abusive.

(3)Behaviour is “abusive” if it consists of any of the following—

(a)physical or sexual abuse;

(b)violent or threatening behaviour;

(c)controlling or coercive behaviour;

(d)economic abuse (see subsection (4));

(e)psychological, emotional or other abuse;

and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

(4)“Economic abuse” means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B’s ability to—

(a)acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or

(b)obtain goods or services.

(5)For the purposes of this Act A’s behaviour may be behaviour “towards” B despite the fact that it consists of conduct directed at another person (for example, B’s child).

(6)References in this Act to being abusive towards another person are to be read in accordance with this section.

(7)For the meaning of “personally connected”, see section 2.

2Definition of “personally connected”

(1)For the purposes of this Act, two people are “personally connected” to each other if any of the following applies—

(a)they are, or have been, married to each other;

(b)they are, or have been, civil partners of each other;

(c)they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(d)they have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(e)they are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other;

(f)they each have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child (see subsection (2));

(g)they are relatives.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(f) a person has a parental relationship in relation to a child if—

(a)the person is a parent of the child, or

(b)the person has parental responsibility for the child.

(3)In this section—

  • “child” means a person under the age of 18 years;

  • “civil partnership agreement” has the meaning given by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004;

  • “parental responsibility” has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 (see section 3 of that Act);

  • “relative” has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

3Children as victims of domestic abuse

(1)This section applies where behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is domestic abuse.

(2)Any reference in this Act to a victim of domestic abuse includes a reference to a child who—

(a)sees or hears, or experiences the effects of, the abuse, and

(b)is related to A or B.

(3)A child is related to a person for the purposes of subsection (2) if—

(a)the person is a parent of, or has parental responsibility for, the child, or

(b)the child and the person are relatives.

(4)In this section—

  • “child” means a person under the age of 18 years;

  • “parental responsibility” has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 (see section 3 of that Act);

  • “relative” has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

Dispelling the Myths

Do drugs, mental health issues, stress and/or alcohol make my partner abusive?

No. Abuse is a choice. Although alcohol, drugs and other substance misuse can exacerbate domestic abuse, they do not cause domestic abuse. The perpetrator, and the perpetrator alone, is responsible for the abuse.

If the abuse was that bad, why didn’t they leave?

There are many overlapping reasons why women may stay, including fear. Leaving is difficult and takes time. It is a process. Those experiencing abusive relationships need support and understanding, not judgement.

My partner didn’t hit me, so he/she is not abusive?

Domestic abuse does not always include physical abuse. Rather, it can involve psychological abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, coercive control, stalking and harassment or technological abuse. 

My partner has anger management issues and therefore is not abusive.

Anger is a feeling, abuse is a choice. Abuse is predicated on belief-systems.

He was provoked.

Responsibility always lies with the perpetrator. By appealing to ‘provocation’, we are perpetuating the widespread myth that there are particular abusive behaviours that can be excused and that are brought on by the victim. This is victim-blaming.

Women can be abusive, too.

Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by anyone. However, domestic abuse, and all strands of violence against women and girls, disproportionately affects women and is disproportionately perpetrated by men. It is a gendered crime, the driving force of which is rooted in the societal inequality between women and men. For example, in the year ending March 2019, the ONS found that 92% of defendants in domestic abuse-related prosecutions were men, and 75% of victims were female. The ONS also estimates that 1/3 women aged 16-59 in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime (ONS, 2019).

Domestic abuse only happens to specific women.

Domestic abuse can happen to any women regardless of where they live, their profession, or social background.

Domestic abuse should remain a private issue.

Domestic abuse is a crime. It is not an individual but a social problem. We all need to speak out against it.

Women find abusive men attractive.

This is victim-blaming. A perpetrator can be charming and charismatic, and there are various overlapping reasons as to why women experience domestic abuse.

All couples argue and this doesn’t mean it is domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse and disagreement are qualitatively different. A difference in opinion is common and acceptable, whereas domestic abuse involves ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse… This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional’.

Whether you are experiencing domestic abuse – or any other form of gender-based violence – or you are a professional working with someone experiencing domestic abuse, it is important that consideration is given to safety. A personal safety plan is one way of helping victims and survivors to protect themselves and those around them, whether their decision is to remain in the relationship or whether their decision is to separate from the perpetrator. It is important that this is done collaboratively with the victim and survivor, alongside specialist support, particularly in the event of separation as this can be dangerous and can be when the abuser escalates their behaviour. Specialist support services that can support with safety planning can be found within the directory below, and the locally commissioned Gender-Based Violence Service in Lewisham is Athena.

The following webpages can provide more information on keeping safe:

  1. http://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/support-for-women/keeping-safe/
  2. https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/I-am-planning-to-leave-my-abuser

https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/making-a-safety-plan/

Athena

The Athena service, run by Refuge, provides confidential, non-judgmental support to those living in the London Borough of Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence.

They can help you to:

  • Talk to someone who understands what you are going through
  • Receive support with contacting the police
  • Move away from the area
  • Access a refuge
  • Stay at home, but want to find out how you can keep safe
  • Receive support if you are considering going to court
  • Access legal advice
  • Manage your financial situation                                                                                                                         

If you are in Lewisham, call the Athena Service, run by Refuge, on 0800 112 4052 or email lewishamvawg@refuge.org.uk

More information on the Athena Service, run by Refuge, at http://www.refuge.org.uk

Programme Information

Our two core domestic abuse programmes that currently run are the CODA and Freedom Programmes.

 The following programmes are being delivered in the Summer Term 2022:

Freedom Programme
on Zoom

CODA Programme
Face to Face

Download our overview of each programme provided

Parents can access these courses by talking to a professional you are working with to make a referral or by contacting us directly via our online enquiry form

To make a referral into our service, please either complete our online referral form or Word referral form by following the buttons below

The Children Overcoming Domestic Abuse (CODA) Programme

CODA is a 12-week therapeutic programme for women & children who have experienced Domestic Abuse. It provides a community based setting for children to share and talk about their experiences, so they understand abuse, reduce their self-blame, can do some planning to keep themselves safe, and learn how to manage their emotions so they can be expressed appropriately.

CODA enables the recovery process and aims to: Validate the children’s experiences Reduce the self-blame that is commonly associated with children experiencing abuse Develop a child-appropriate safety plan Manage appropriate and inappropriate expressions of emotion Enhance the mother-child relationship Enable both the mother and child to heal together

There is a separate programme for the children and the mothers, these run concurrently. It can be delivered as both a group programme and 1 to 1. It is a Canadian group work model adapted for the UK by AVA (Against Violence and Abuse).

Usually the programme is delivered face to face, however this could not continue following the COVID-19 lockdown and a new online version was developed. Regular check-ins were carried out with both the children and mothers whose programmes were put on hold- to provide support and ensure their safety during lockdown. This was extended to include vulnerable families on the waiting list. 

The new digital offer was developed by EYA Lewisham Children and Family Centres alongside AVA – to ensure fidelity to the CODA programme and enable standardisation across the multi-agency delivery model. This included scrutinising each session and adapting every activity to ensure it translated effectively to online delivery, whilst replicating the group experience. Particular care was taken to ensure the potentially triggering nature of the sensitive material covered could be done safely online. An additional online ‘top-up’ training session for facilitators has been created and is now considered a pre-requisite to delivery. The training package upskills practitioners and increases their confidence in two key areas: (1) the use of Zoom as a vehicle to facilitate a safe space for women and children to process their experiences, in a way that continues to maintain their confidentiality and privacy; (2) to effectively facilitate the adapted, online-friendly activities.

Frequently Asked Questions – CODA Programme

What does the CODA Programme seek to achieve?

The CODA programme is a twelve-week therapeutic programme for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. It seeks to enable the recovery process and aims to:

  • Validate the children’s experiences.
  • Reduce the self-blame that is commonly associated with children experiencing abuse.
  • Develop a child-appropriate safety plan.
  • Manage appropriate and inappropriate expressions of emotion.
  • Enhance the mother-child relationship.
  • Enable both the mother and child to heal together.

How are the groups structured?

The CODA Programme runs for twelve weeks with the women and children’s sessions running concurrently and each week focusing on a specific theme. The children’s sessions are also divided into age-specific groups and both the women’s sessions and the children’s sessions follow the same structure every week in order to provide a sense of continuity. This may include the following:

  • Check-In
  • Discussion
  • Activity
  • Check-Out

Are there any contraindications that would mean that the CODA programme is not  the appropriate service right now?

Due to the CODA Programme being a recovery programme, we do not accept referrals where the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator is still residing in the family home.

We also do not accept referrals where children are on Child Protection Plans. We, as a service, are committed to ensuring that women and children receive the right support at the right time so please do contact Lou Neville-Ball, Family Services Officer, on 07964350616 to discuss alternative support that may be available locally.

Are you currently delivering virtually?

Yes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have turned our attention to delivering the CODA Programme virtually via Zoom. We have ensured that the necessary precautions have been taken in order for delivery to take place safely online.

Should attendance be mandated as part of a statutory response?

No. Attendance should not be mandated as part of a statutory response. It is the woman and child’s choice to attend – they must do so voluntarily.

Impact of the CODA Programme

The videos below illustrate the impact that our recovery support – in the form of the CODA Programme – has had on children. Using the voices of the children, these powerful videos encapsulate the child’s lived experience and what they have gained as a result of attending the CODA Programme.
(Note: the children’s voices have been disguised to maintain their anonymity.)

The Freedom Programme

The Freedom Programme is for women who are or have been experiencing domestic abuse. It examines the influence of attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusers and the responses of those who have experienced the abuse.

The programme helps women to make sense of and understand what has happened to them, to understand how their children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed. It gives women the space to develop ways of thinking and behaving to protect themselves and their children from harm.

The aims of The Freedom Programme are:

  • To help women understand the beliefs held by abusive men and to recognise which of these beliefs they have shared
  • To illustrate the effects of domestic abuse on children
  • To assist women to recognise potential future abusers
  • To help women gain self-esteem and the confidence to improve the quality of their lives
  • To introduce women to other women who share similar experiences

Frequently Asked Questions – The Freedom Programme

What is the Freedom Programme and what does it seek to achieve?

The Freedom Programme was designed by Pat Craven and is for women who are experiencing or surviving domestic abuse. It usually runs for eleven or twelve weeks (but this may vary depending on your locality) and aims to:
  • Provide women who are experiencing or surviving domestic abuse with a safe, supportive and friendly environment.
  • Allow women to recognise the tactics and behaviours of ‘the dominator’ – that is, the tactics that typify a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
  • Give women the opportunity to build connections with other women.

How are the groups structured?

The Freedom Programme focuses on a different theme each week based on the types of tactics that a perpetrator uses – ‘the dominator’. ‘The dominator’ is then contrasted with a non-perpetrating partner, ‘The Friend’, in order for the women to reflect through structured discussion.

Are there any contraindications that would mean that the Freedom Programme is not the appropriate service right now?

Due to the Freedom Programme being a recovery programme, we do not accept referrals where the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator is still residing in the family home.

We, as a service, are committed to ensuring that women and children receive the right support at the right time so please do contact Lou Neville-Ball, Family Services Officer, on 07964350616 to discuss alternative support that may be available locally.

Are you currently delivering virtually?

Yes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have turned our attention to delivering the Freedom Programme virtually via Zoom. We have ensured that the necessary precautions have been taken in order for delivery to take place safely online.

Should attendance be mandated as part of a statutory response?

No. Attendance should not be mandated as part of a statutory response. It is the women’s choice to attend – she must do so voluntarily.

Impact of the Freedom Programme

The videos below illustrate the impact that our recovery support – in the form of the Freedom Programme – has had on participants. Using actors’ voices, these powerful videos capture the women’s experiences of the Freedom Programme and the impact it has had on them.

‘My son is happier and more confident. He seems to be more happy with himself and he seems to be less quick to be scared’.

Freedom Programme Parent

Directory of Support

24-Hour Domestic Violence Helpline 
Contact by phone or online to find support. Calls are free.

Refuge Charity 

Lots of information and advice on domestic violence and abuse.

Women’s Aid
Information and support on domestic abuse. A free resource with lots of information

Galop — support for LGBT victims
Supporting LGBT+ people who have experienced abuse or violence

Men’s Advice Line
A free helpline for male victims of domestic abuse. Talk to someone in confidence. 

Rape Crisis
is the umbrella organisation for a network of independent Rape Crisis Centres.

Iranian & Kurdish women’s Rights organisation
Safeguarding and empowering women against “honour” based abuse.

Southall Black Sisters
Highlighting and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women

Karma Nirvana
Honour Based Abuse Helpline, gathering data to inform policies and services, and campaign for change.

Forward
African women-led women’s rights organisation working to end violence against women and girls.

Deafhope

Working for good health and wellbeing for Deaf people. Also providing domestic abuse advice.

NSPCC
National organisation working to help keep children safe. Providing advice and support and gathering research. 

Respect
A domestic abuse organisation that works with perpetrators and male victims of domestic abuse 

Paladin
An organisation aiming to  assist high risk victims of stalking in England and Wales, keeping victims and children safe.

Surviving Economic Abuse
Support and advice to help people who are experiencing economic abuse. 

Mankind
Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK as well as their friends and family.

National Victim Support
Victim Support is an independent charity dedicated to supporting victims of crime and traumatic incidents.

Forced Marriage Unit
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a Development Office (FCDO) and Home Office unit which leads on the government’s forced marriage policy

Hot Peach Pages
Focusing on abuse information and support for every woman and every girl on Earth. Providing information and links to services.

Rights of Women
Providing women with the legal advice and information they need to understand and use the law and their legal rights increasing access to justice.

Imkaan
An umbrella women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against black and minoritised women and girls.

Asha
A South Asian organisation that works to end violence against women and girls. Also offering secure accommodation.

Ashiana
An organisation working within feminist principles to support women and girls experiencing violence and abuse.

Safety4Sisters
 Supporting migrant women who have experienced gender-based violence and who have no recourse to public funds.

SAWN
Providing events to make women independent, self-sustaining, and key players in matters that concern them.

Saheli
Saheli Asian Women’s Project provides advice, information and support services to Asian women and their children fleeing domestic abuse

Courageous Project
We are a diverse group of organisations who work with young women affected by violence and abuse.

W & G Network
A free service run by women, for women in London who have been affected by all forms of violence and abuse.

Mosac
Supporting the non-abusing parents and carers of children who have been sexually abused. 

Legal Advice
You can search here for a legal aid solicitor. Search for a legal adviser or family mediator.

Support Through Court
A free service across England and Wales, offering support and guidance before, during, and after court.

Resolution
Find a domestic abuse accredited Resolution Accredited Specialist solicitor in your local area or by profession. 

Law Advice Line
Family law advice lines, one national and one for women in London. Both lines can advise you on domestic violence and abuse

Quaggy Counselling
Providing low-cost, individual counselling to adults in Greenwich and Lewisham. Fees are means tested, starting at £2 per session.

Bright Sky App
Bright Sky is a safe, easy to use app that provides practical support and information on how to respond to domestic abuse. 

The Outside Project
The Outside Project is a Centre and Domestic Abuse Refuge in response to those within the LGBTIQ+ community who feel endangered.

Hollie Guard App
With a shake or tap notifies your chosen contacts, pinpointing your location and sends audio and video to their phones.

For Babies Sake
A programme of support in response to domestic abuse, trauma and what babies need from conception to age two (1001 days).

Breathing Space
Online tool to support victims of domestic abuse. It is a 24 hour helpline and is run by AVA (Against Violence and Abuse).

One in Four
Supporting childhood and current survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, abuse and trauma and raising awareness. 

NSPCC Childline
NSPCC ChildLine telephone service gives children and young people a voice when no one else may be listening. 

turn2us
turn2us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. Get support on various topics.

The Havens
Providing specialist centres in London for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Providing  a 24 hour helpline.

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