Up to September of 2012 I had not heard of Derbyshire SAMS and the support for battered males I knew that the service was available for females as I had witnessed this within my voluntary role with various charities.
Last September was a very large milestone having had physical and mental abuse for a number of years, I was attacked once again this was the final straw. I left for my safety not knowing where I was going. My eldest daughter was having treatment at that time for a mental problem, she had seen the telephone number for the male abuse team.
I rang the helpline this was my saviour they discussed the situation and help was put into place, actions that would see me safe and support to find somewhere to live. They helped with all the form filling trying to get me a place to live. At this time having thirty years of living with someone I was very alone and down. My children then took sides and I was left homeless and was sleeping rough, but my support workers were there to help and help they did.
Helping with form filling visits with the council and trying to find the basic needs to furnish a home, without this support I would have given up, and gone back home and suffered.
I am now more contented person with blood pressure reduced and my own boss doing what I want when I feel like it.
Within the organisation I was offered counselling which has helped me cope with the situation better.
Almost twelve months on thanks to the team at SAM I am now a different person and able to cope with my life better there are still hurdles to cross but with the steadying hand from my support worker I will cross those hurdles.
At SAM the support is there for the male you can take what you want and when you need it, the staff are very knowledgeable and can support with visits to solicitors police councils and guide you through this torrid time.
I have suffered badly in a relationship for the past 7 years, I didn’t understand my wife kept controlling me and hurting and abusing me, I just kept running back to her again and again. My life now is ruined, in a mental state. 3 months ago my wife was abusing me again and hurt me. I called the police and got her arrested. I got advice from the police and domestic abuse victim helpline because I felt unsafe to carry on living with her in our home. I was advised to leave the home as soon as possible, and seek to a refuge which is a safe house miles away from home, away from my abusing partner. I took up an offer of a refuge, and am presently still in it temporarily, I have got 2 nice Refuge support workers from North Derbyshire Women’s Aid, they come and visit me Tuesday and Thursday every week and support me with housing benefit claims, form filling, general benefit needs, and re housing forms. They take me to appointments for counselling support because of domestic abuse and mental health support, which over the past 7 years the abuse I so long suffered turned me into mental health problems, which has made me now ill. Domestic abuse can make your life deteriorate which can be very difficult to rebuild soon after. I thank the police and domestic abuse helpline for making me sense to leave my so abusive partner I so long suffered many battering’s and got hurt, and scared, with many marks on my body by the harm she gave me, biting me. I screamed and cried. Controlling me where ever I went and in the home, hitting me on the head and splitting my head open. She was intimidating me. I suffered with so much from her I am glad I now see the sense and my safety and to still stay alive for leaving my abusive, cruel wife. I thank god I am so lucky for his call to guide me to a path of safety, away from harm and fear, I now hope to rebuild a new quiet life. I thank all at the North Derbyshire Women’s Aid for their on-going support in helping me, and letting me stay in a nice loving calm recovery refuge, that touched my heart to a new future to try with great confidence rebuilding a new normal life. Thank you to the refuge support workers for your hard work, to help all who have suffered domestic abuse. Thank you North Derbyshire Women’s Aid, you have started to change my life which you showed me a way forward away from abuse and harm.
I phoned a national men’s helpline and told them what had happened and how I felt. My partner was very controlling and had started to threaten to hurt me. The helpline reassured me and referred me to DSAM which is part if the Derbyshire Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Service (DDVSAS) that helps male victims. The DDVSAS helpline worker, Julie, phoned me back and undertook a risk assessment with me and said that she would ring me back the next day to confirm if I could be allocated a place in their male refuge. Thank fully I was offered a place and she spoke with my local council to arrange for them to organize bed and breakfast for me so that I could travel to North Derbyshire the following day.
I was very nervous during the train journey as I did not know what to expect, but Julie rang me to check I was alright. I probably felt more nervous as I am from a LGBT back ground and I was concerned about what the refuge and other tenants would be like. The DDVSAS advice centre (where the helpline is based) arranged a taxi from the train station to the refuge and I was met there by a refuge worker called Sarah. I was feeling very daunted by the whole experience.
Sarah and Genna (the refuge workers) have helped me to claim the correct benefits, get registered at a local GHP surgery and also with additional help like specialist domestic violence counselling and a grant to help me buy some new clothes. Most importantly I have felt secure knowing I am in a safe environment and with people who understand about me being from an LGBT background. I feel the support I have had from staff whilst at the refuge has been outstanding and the counselling I am undertaking though the DDVSAS counselling service has helped me move forward. I am making progress each week and I am overcoming confidence issues. I feel this will help me in the future identify any potential abuser.
DDVSAS helped me apply for a tenancy with the local authority and within two months of coming in to the refuge I have my own flat. I can now maintain my life for the future whereas I was falling apart but now I have survived and achieved.
As an LGBT coming into this organisation I believe anyone similar coming into the service would benefit from being in this safe and secure environment without worrying about being open about their sexuality. I will pass on any information about DDVSAS to Broken Rainbow so they are aware where to send people to feel supported and safe. I would like to thank Julie who organized getting me away from the perpetrator and Sarah and Genna for supporting me in the refuge. Now I have my own place DDVSAS are providing an outreach worker to help me get back into reality.
James met Zoe 23 years ago. They had a ‘casual’ relationship which resulted in Zoe having a baby boy by James. As James’ adult life spiralled out of control, they did not have contact for many years.
James first went to prison when he was 17 and states he has spent around 7 years of his life in prison for various offences to include drug dealing and fighting.
When he came out of prison after a long spell inside he wanted to find Zoe and his son. He did this only to discover that Zoe had also had another baby boy by James. However, they had both been taken into care. The youngest boy, Alfie, now 19 was returned to mum but Richard, now 22 was adopted. James is still trying to find him.
During their time apart, Zoe had two more children, a boy, now 15 and a girl now 17 and had been the victim of domestic abuse.
James and Zoe rekindled their relationship seven years ago and this has resulted in another boy, Reece, now 5. However, Reece was taken into care three years ago because of James and Zoe’s past history – James’ anger and shouting, drinking and drug habit. Social Care stated that Zoe was being abused by James. They are fighting to get Reece home and to avoid him being adopted.
Social Care put James in contact with the SAM Perpetrator Programme. He said he had to do something to try and get his son, Reece home. James has maintained that he has not been abusive to Zoe in their relationship and that social care should check A & E records, as there have been no physical incidents of abuse between him and Zoe and no police call outs. Zoe backs this up and states that she has been to A & E with her former partner with injuries sustained as the result of domestic abuse.
Social Care did not believe Zoe and stated she was the victim of domestic abuse and they had concerns about James’ drinking and smoking cannabis.
James started the course in April 2015 and completed his 26 weeks in November 2015. This is what he had to say about attending the SAM Perpetrator Programme.
“I was told about the SAM Perpetrator Programme by our social worker after they took our youngest son into care due to domestic abuse. I had to prove to them that I was not this violent person they were making me out to be and I knew I had to try and do all I could to help to get our son home. I admit, I have fought men and have got angry but I would never hit a woman.”
“At first, when I attended the course, I didn’t think I needed it. I was one of them lads that you can’t tell anything to but coming on the course and listening to other lads and the group facilitators it has opened my eyes to what abuse really is. It’s not just about physical abuse but it about mental abuse too.”
“The group facilitators and the group members help you to open up and talk about your experiences. I was asked about my upbringing and my parents and how they treated me. I grew up in a family that did not have a lot of money and I had dummy trainers. My brothers and sisters were older and left me there. I would often wonder why they left me there with my parents. I used to get a good hiding now and then. My mum was an alcoholic and I would say nasty things to her, only what I had heard my dad say but he would still try and hit me for saying them. I used to run out of the house. The atmosphere at home was horrible. I never wanted to be in an atmosphere like that. As I got a bit older I started to deal in drugs. I had so much money I didn’t know what to do with it. So, I started to take drugs. I have tried everything. I have been smoking Cannabis since I was 19 but been off it about 8 months now. I was never paranoid with it though. I needed it first thing in the morning or I couldn’t function. I felt weird if I wasn’t in the zone. Same with alcohol. I used to drink Special Brew but that would send me off on one. I drink Fosters now, just at a weekend. Zoe and the kids don’t mind that. “
“The course teaches you about the affects of abuse on children. I have spoken to the kids about it and it has affected them. Kids felt disgusted in me, the way I shouted at mum, arguing, drinking and smoking cannabis in front of them and then going out drinking. Lots of shouting and I think I learnt this behaviour from listening to my parents drinking and shouting at each other and me. The way I used to go on shouting all the time they didn’t like but they also knew it was the alcohol and smoking cannabis which was kicking me off and making me go on it. I kept over thinking things and when I overthink I am horrible and nasty and it has had an impact on them. I think that is why Alfie has moved out in a way and didn’t want to be hearing all the shouting all the time and Katie, Zoe’s daughter, didn’t like it either but she is glad I have done the course and got somewhere and done something about it. I have a better relationship with the kids now. I talk to Alfie and give him money and I talk to him like a normal father should. The last time I spoke to Reece I told him I was coming back for him and not to worry but that was a few years ago now.
I have got somewhere now. It’s the first time I have stuck at anything and completed it. I have to set myself goals. I have completed this course and now I want to be a drugs counsellor as I have been there, tried everything and come out the other side. I want to look into ways of doing this. In all the time I was taking drugs they never asked me why I did or what was the reason behind it. It wasn’t anything to do with my past. I took drugs because I could afford to.
I have learnt a lot from attending the SAM Perpetrator Programme. First of all, what domestic abuse really consists of. I have learnt that the manner of talking and tone in my voice has had an impact on Zoe, I didn’t think it did. I have changed with the way I verbally communicate with her. I remember going home and talking about the sessions and discussing the names I have called her. I told her I was absolutely ashamed of the way I had been speaking to her and the kids and I now know this was wrong of me. I didn’t think it had offended her but it had. Words stick more than hitting and bruising. I have learnt to control what I say and work on my goals from my initial assessment – verbal abuse. I never hit her but I grabbed her once by her chin and told her to listen to me instead of shouting and ranting I know it was abuse now but not at the time I was just trying to shut her up. I have also learnt about Time Out Strategies and the signals to use them. The course has really benefitted me, Zoe and the children. I have really learnt a lot and I enjoy coming back to group as a peer mentor and listening to the new guys on their journeys and being able to tell them about my experiences.
Another goal is for Zoe and me to get married. We have been together long enough now and we are living together as a couple. We are much better suited since coming on the course. Our relationship has changed for the better. Zoe is a lot happier now and more relaxed. She doesn’t have to come home from work thinking I might be on one!
The biggest goal however, is getting Reece back. I told one of the group facilitators about the court case and how we can’t get legal aid now and she has given me the details of Citizens Advice Bureua and Derbyshire Family Law Group and said we might be able to use a Mackenzie friend. Me and Zoe are going to look into this as the next step of trying to get Reece home. I am glad I have attend and completed this course and got this under his belt know as I am hoping it will prove to the courts that I have changed and we can at least start thinking of Reece coming home.
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