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    • #88631
      Moderator
      Main Moderator

      The Survivors’ Forum will be running a series of Ask the Expert sessions with women who work with survivors of domestic abuse and specialize in certain areas.

      Our first session will be with Dickie James, CE of Staffordshire Women’s Aid. Dickie leads on a project which aims to put the voices of older survivors at strategy level, and build capacity to within the community to better support older women experiencing abuse.

      If you are over 50 and have any questions about your experiences of domestic abuse, or the project, please leave them below in this thread. Dickie will be live on the forum on Wednesday 2nd Oct, from 6pm, to answer them

    • #88913
      Marshmallow
      Participant

      Just some observations rather than questions. I had my children in my (detail removed by moderator). It took me a long while to see how controlling my husband was. I stayed as I knew he would not accept separation and thought it would be better for the children to stay as a family. Eventually, we did separate but as suspected it caused more problems. As the children were teenagers I realised that the family court was likely to respect what they said at face value. I could not get through to CAFCASS or the court that if I as a mature woman had not appreciated the extent of the control is was unlikely that a teenager would. Even though there was evidence of control no one could help (police, WA, GP, solicitor etc). What is being done in situations where the children are young adults to protect them? The family courts do not seem to have caught up with the criminal courts where coercive control is concerned.
      I was assigned a support worker from WA for a short period. As fantastic as she was it was it was the age difference made the ‘relationship’ difficult. It would be great to have support where there is less of an age gap. I felt too that there were demographic related issues with the police, the courts and CAFCASS; perhaps I was being over sensitive but I did feel at times that I was being judged according to my age, employment and education; a case of unconscious bias.

       

      • #89025
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Hi there!

        Thank you for inviting me as a guest on As the Expert. I do hope I can answer some of the questions helpfully. I will be starting t 6 pm

      • #89034
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Hi Marshmallow

        Thanks for flagging up the issue of age difference regarding your support worker. The project I am working on is collecting the views and challenges for women over 50, and I will make sure this is considered in our research.
        It is really so challenging in the Family Courts, and we are aware that women often find this so challenging. We are hoping things will change with the new Domestic Violence Bill.
        I don’t think you are being too sensitive about the attitude you have received from statutory agencies. Research tells us that women are often not taken seriously, but this can be particularly difficult for older women. There is certainly a great deal of unconscious bias towards women, and this links with age, etc. But its important that we work to help women of all ages to be able to have their views and experiences taken seriously.

    • #88915
      Barbara
      Participant

      Hi I am (detail removed by moderator) but have only just joined the forum. I have been unhappy with my relationship for most of my marriage, but was always led to believe by my husband that my unhappiness was my fault because I was hospitalised for acute depression in my (detail removed by moderator) and therefore there is obviously  (detail removed by moderator). It is only relatively recently that I have begun to half believe that I am living in a relationship of coercive control and that my husband is a lifelong bully. So many boxes are ticked. He rarely holds a rational discussion with me .Usually if I disagree with his opinion, his reaction is to utter a warning shout of (detail removed by moderator) much as if he was disciplining a disobedient dog. If I carry on talking he will not allow me to finish my sentence , but will approach me, thrust his face towards mine and yell (detail removed by moderator) He has never hit me and he has never stopped me from going out or seeing friends or family so he doesn’t meet all the criteria of the coercive controller. He doesn’t suggest what I wear or how to do my hair either. But he does he criticise other things constantly, my parenting, my spending, my hospitality towards his friends, my ‘unreasonable’ requests that he helps more with the housework and tries learning to cook (he is retired). We have just had a long weekend where I entertained acquaintances of his who he had invited to stay with us without my knowledge. (Detail removed by moderator), who had not replied to his invitation, turned up anyway and I had to hurriedly lay (detail removed by moderator) extra places at the table and prepare a bedroom for them. As soon as everybody left (detail removed by moderator) he turned on me and yelled at me for making his friends feel unwelcome by not getting things ready for them in advance and so making it obvious they weren’t expected.
      He did not contribute at all to hosting his friends other than sitting at the dinner table like one more guest and laughing and drinking with them. Other guests gave me a hand and I think sympathised a little. That moment when I was absolutely exhausted and he started yelling at me was when I really felt I must do something. Previously, after events like this I have pushed them to the back of my mind and made excuses for him but his constant rebukes now send me in to such depression that I am beginning to feel suicidal and I know it is just not tenable to carry on like this. But I am also afraid of leaving. He is so convinced he is in the right and when he tells me off, he convinces me too. (Detail removed by moderator) he says when I defend myself. (Detail removed by moderator).. I feel so wretched and bad and useless. During our long marriage whenever he told me off I always felt like a nail being relentlessly hammered into the floor. He won’t stop until I am driven absolutely flat . Is there a question here? I don’t know. Tell me I’m not mad perhaps?

       

    • #88954
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What advice would Dickie give to older women who have been out of the workplace for some time, but in order to leave their abusive relationship would need to find a job to support themselves financially. Where do we start to look for employment? What if we have mental health issues – how might that affect us to secure a job? Domestic abuse, in all its forms, can happen to anyone regardless of their educational attainment or age and, as mentioned by above by Marshmallow, there is unconscious bias in the system that affects how professionals relate to you. I’ve had many negative experiences from judgmental professionals who don’t seem up-to-date with the latest developments/literature relating to domestic abuse. Familial abuse is one such example.

      I think Women’s Aid should consider, if they don’t already do so, lobbying professional organisations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy to ensure that their members are aware of all aspects of domestic abuse, particularly coercive control, which has many, many forms; I identify with some of Barbara’s comments also.

      • #89036
        Barbara
        Participant

        Thank you Dickie. That is so helpful. I probably posted this in the wrong forum but I’m delighted you took the trouble to answer me. I will think seriously about contacting a a local centre.

      • #89040
        Lisa
        Main Moderator

        Hi Barbara, you can find your local domestic abuse service herehttps://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-abuse-directory/

        Best wishes

        Lisa

    • #88971
      mollymee
      Participant

      I just have a few questions.

      If the dv was perpetrated (detail removed by moderator) and reported now, would Clare’s Law still apply? Also the perpetrator has married for the (detail removed by moderator). He appears to have treated this wife really well for the past (detail removed by moderator). He cooks, cleans, does the shopping, takes her on holiday. However, he has denied all previous dv incidences perpetrated against me and refused to go on a course. Could he have changed? He has a new son whom he idolises as well as the kids from his first marriage. Sadly, he treats our children (children from his second major relationship) differently.

      Secondly, how does one stop thinking about his life? He seems to have come out of it much better since he left me (detail removed by moderator). I have managed to find work and look after my children, but because I didn’t report him earlier he seems to have got off ‘scott free.’

      Thank you for help.

       

       

       

      • #89037
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Hi Cirrocumulus

        Our research on older women shows that being able to support themselves financially is such a huge challenge in making decisions about whether or not to leave an abusive partner. After years in a relationship its really difficult to become financially independent, and its especially difficult to build the confidence to go out and find work, or access training for new work. Self confidence is eroded by living with abuse which makes it especially hard to feel confident in looking for work.
        Many WA groups do work on helping women rebuild work skills, so if you have a local service it may be worth contacting them about this. The most important thing is to try and build confidence and self-esteem.
        Accessing confidence building from your local service would help here, and could be your first step.

      • #89043
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Hi Mollymee

        I think you would need to seek advice either from a specialist DV service about your query on Clare’s Law. They could provide advice and sign post you if necessary.
        One of the most common problems after domestic abuse is rebuilding your self confidence and independence. Managing to care for children on your own, and work is really tough so well done! I think women are incredibly resourceful and strong, even when they don’t think it themselves. The main thing is for you to be kind to yourself, and make sure you do things for you when you can.

    • #88993
      maddog
      Participant

      Is there any support available for anyone being dragged by their abusers through the family courts? (detail removed by moderator).

    • #89003
      KIP.
      Participant

      What does Dickie think about a buddy system for over 50s. Im over 50. Have been through the mill but im now in a position to buddy a newbie who is over 50 so more likely to have things in common. I was thunking about AA and their sponsors. One for women victims would be great. Ive done this dor two women so far. I helped one with her court case and one with an abuser and finding therapy. Both had my email and phone number 24/7 and are doing well x

      • #89038
        Dickie James
        Participant

        This is so challenging for women, and they continually face unconscious bias in the family courts. I am so sorry you are facing this.
        I would suggest that you try to contact your nearest domestic abuse service. They can at least provide advice and support, and while they may not be able to fix things, it is always helpful to have someone to support you through this difficult process.

      • #89039
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Hi Kip

        I think this is a great idea. Our research is showing that while older women face huge challenges in getting support, they are also very resourceful in supporting one another, and your suggestion is a case of this. I will certainly use this example in the research we are gathering about how older women cope with domestic violence, and what are the best responses for them from services.
        Its great to hear you are supporting other women. It is so much what Women’s Aid is about, and thank you for sharing this idea.
        Dickie

      • #89048
        Dickie James
        Participant

        Kip, have you thought about approaching your nearest WA service to offer some volunteering?

    • #89009
      Iwantmeback
      Participant

      When are women’s aid going to recognise that by not allowing pets in refuge accommodation(not communal refuge) that many women will remain and or return. It could come with rules, eg dogs have to be crated when left alone, pets have to be dressed. This is such an important factor and our abusers know they control us by the’what if’ factors

      • #89046
        Dickie James
        Participant

        It is so tough to even think about leaving a pet behind. But it really is almost impossible for refuges to take pets since there would be all sorts of legislation they were breaking.

    • #89029
      Lisa
      Main Moderator

      Hi everyone, just a reminder that Dickie James will be here at 6pm.

      Thanks so much for your support Dickie!

      Best wishes

      Lisa

    • #89042
      KIP.
      Participant

      Thank you Dickie, I also have a house with spare bedroom and would consider taking in a woman fleeing domestic violence if she didn’t want a refuge. This would free up some space and perhaps an older person would not want a refuge.

    • #89045
      KIP.
      Participant

      Perhaps WA could vet and keep a list of volunteer women like me offering free temporary accommodation?

    • #89047
      KIP.
      Participant

      You could perhaps even look at it like fostering and offer expenses or financial help short term. With a lack of refuge places I wonder if this idea could work.

    • #89052
      mollymee
      Participant

      I just have a few questions.

      Hi Dickie

      If the dv was perpetrated (detail removed by moderator) and reported now, would Clare’s Law still apply? Also the perpetrator has married for the (detail removed by moderator). He appears to have treated this wife really well for the past (detail removed by moderator). He cooks, cleans, does the shopping, takes her on holiday. However, he has denied all previous dv incidences perpetrated against me and refused to go on a course. Could he have changed? He has a new son whom he idolises as well as the kids from his first marriage. Sadly, he treats our children (children from his second major relationship) differently.

      Secondly, how does one stop thinking about his life? He seems to have come out of it much better since he left me (detail removed by moderator). I have managed to find work and look after my children, but because I didn’t report him earlier he seems to have got off ‘scott free.’

      Thank you for help.

    • #89054
      KIP.
      Participant

      Hi Dickie, sadly my local women’s aid weren’t interested. The advocate I had was fantastic however the management are very stiff and not at all open to anything not in their agenda. Which is a real shame. I saw an advert for a mental health worker in a neighbouring women’s aid. They had funding for a year for a counsellor purely for women going through abuse. That’s the forward thinking I’d like to see but that town is too far away.

    • #89060
      Lisa
      Main Moderator

      Thank you so much Dickie for taking part this evening and also thank you to everyone who took part

      Best wishes

      Lisa

    • #89035
      Dickie James
      Participant

      Hi Barbara

      I am so very sorry it has been so hard for you for so many years. We know that there is often a huge overlap between living with domestic abuse and coercive control long term, and experiencing poor mental health. I always remember one women telling me that she felt that having mental health problems made it so difficult for her to express her experiences, and she felt that agencies took the domestic abuse less seriously. She said that her mental health was always hiding what was happening at home. The most important thing is for you to keep bearing in mind that this is not you, but the perpetrator of the abuse that is at fault here.
      I think in answer to your second post, it will in the end always be your choice as to whether or not to stay with your partner. But I wonder if you have been able to seek support from a local domestic violence service? WA can always help locate where the nearest one to you is. You could talk through your experiences, and look at what choices might be available to you.

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