Phoenix Domestic Abuse Services receives over 600 referrals each year and of these engages with around 200 victims of domestic abuse, 50 perpetrators and 35 young people. Each individual has a unique story and our work is person centred and adapted to meet those individual needs.
The following is a typical story of a couple who have worked with the service.
Diane and Jack had been together for a few months when the police first attended. Diane had called the police and reported that violence and threats had been used. During the next 12 months there were 10 incidents where the police attended and completed a risk assessment form. On 3 of these occasions Diane gave consent for a referral to be made to Phoenix DAS. A number of these incidents were classified as High Risk and agencies were trying to engage both Diane and Jack.
A referral was also made to Phoenix DAS from Social Services. These referrals resulting in Phoenix DAS attempting to contact Dianne on 4 occasions. Diane later admitted that she was not ready to even think that her relationship was abusive, let alone do anything about it. Diane did agree to an initial appointment but did not attend.
This ‘non engagement’ can be typical when a victim of domestic abuse first comes into contact with support agencies and Phoenix DAS is able to use a flexible and creative approach when making contact and engaging with victims. Very often needing to ‘leave the door open’ for future contact.
Diane and Jack’s first child was born during this time and Diane began to engage on a one to one basis. She had an initial appointment with a safety worker (IDVA) where a full support and safety plan was completed along with a risk assessment. With a lot of encouragement and support Diane then began to attend The Knowledge Programme.
The Knowledge Programme is a 10 week programme designed and developed by Phoenix DAS and delivered twice weekly in Phoenix House. It can help participants understand and define domestic abuse, how it has affected them and recognise their power and choices. It covers Power & Control, Isolation, the Effects on Children, Threats and Intimidation, Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Sexual Abuse.
18 months after first meeting and despite claiming that they were no longer in a relationship Diane disclosed that she was pregnant with their second child. Social Services became involved, the children were placed on the child protection register and eventually placed in foster care. Diane and Jack’s relationship was very much on and off. However a referral was made for Jack to the Perpetrator Programme and they both were now engaging with Phoenix DAS.
The Phoenix Respect Programme has been accredited by RESPECT (a nationally recognised accreditation body for the purposes of domestic abuse perpetrator work) to meeting a safe minimum safety standard of practice in regards to its perpetrator intervention work.
The Phoenix Respect Programme is voluntary and is designed for people who are ready to make changes. Participants will benefit from 24 core group work sessions and additional one to one support sessions. Participants consider key themes including Victim Awareness, Accountability and Honesty, Respect, Thinking & Behaviour, Consequential Thinking, Communications Skills, Partnership, Emotional Control and Healthy Relationships
Over the next 6 months both Diane and Jack continued to engage with one to one support and group programmes. They also both completed parenting assessments with Social Services.
The rehabilitation of the children back into their care began. Jack completed the Perpetrator Programme and the children were back with Diane and Jack 9 months after being removed.
The couple took the decision to separate permanently and safely 6 months later with Diane having full time custody of the children and Jack having regular access. This was very different from previous separations in that it was managed safely and there was a complete lack of harassment and continued abuse that had been present previously. Jack and Diane were able to vocalise this to professionals and both felt emotionally able to be independent parents to their children.
We at Phoenix DAS consider this a successful result for the whole family and in line with our service outcomes of reducing risk of harm to victims and families in their current and future relationships. For both Diane and Jack there is also improved sense of wellbeing and resilience and they have an increased knowledge and understanding of domestic abuse and healthy relationships.
By this time Diane had also completed all programmes and her case was closed with the service. Phoenix Domestic Abuse Service has continued to have some contact with Diane sporadically and have recently checked in to see how things are and what impact the work undertaken had with her. An annual review form was completed and Diane said she is doing really well and her final comment was…
“Jack got a lot out of the perpetrator programme and our relationship is friendly, although we are not together it is significantly better”