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Breaking The Cycle Monthly Update - December 2022

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Lucy's Update­I cannot believe that I am sitting here writing the introduction for our December Newsletter! Where has the year gone? November has been incredibly busy with both Safeguarding Adults Week and the 16 Days of Action. I spoke at Essex Partnership University Trust for Safeguarding Adults week and at the NCDV Conference during the 16 days of Action alongside our Client and Community Caseworker, Julie Bell.­­The latest data from the Office of National Statistics has been released and I have been working through all of our training resources to incorporate those updates. There were 1.5 million domestic abuse incidents recorded across England and Wales in Year End 2022 which is an increase from the previous year. Please do join us for any public training sessions from January when all the new data will have been updated into our sessions. For Victims of Domestic Abuse, often Christmas isn’t a great time of year. It’s a time of reflection as well as danger and that brings a number of different feelings and risks to the fore. I have produced a short blog on Domestic Abuse and Christmas and to let you know my heart goes out to all of those impacted at this time of year: Please know that you are not alone. Our Breaking the Cycle Programme continues to deliver weekly online Community Drop-Ins for our DWP Clients in Essex. This is proving to be a lifeline for the attendees and I have to thank our wonderful team for that. Additional funding into 2024, now means we can appoint 2 new permanent but part-time members of the team! Sue Potter, who re-joins the team as our ‘Learning and Development Manager’ and Karen Phillips as our ‘Senior Trainer and Community Caseworker’. Karen will be taking over some of our public training sessions from February and both ladies have been with me and Alpha Vesta right from the start as volunteers and then in temporary roles. I’m incredibly proud of our team and what we have achieved this year. We look forward to seeing you in 2023!­­­Best wishes Lucy Whittaker Founding Director and Lead Trainer of Alpha Vesta CIC­­­­­­­­Christmas can be a very difficult and stressful time of year for victims of domestic abuse and their families. Many victims and their children may not even be able to see their families this year because they made the incredibly tough decision to flee their violent and abusive relationship and, for their own safety, are not able to return. The train strikes this year as well as heavy snow and the cost of living crisis has added additional barriers for those that may have had to leave their families and communities this year as well as the opportunity that their family may have had to visit them. Christmas is also the time of year where alcohol is flowing and because it’s winter, we are often inside the home far more than we would be in the summer. It’s dark at 4pm and walking out of the home if a victim feels something is brewing is nearly impossible particularly with young children. We urge those living in perhaps an unpredictable, volatile home to have someone they are able to contact quicky if they need to. A safe word that they can use to let them know that they need help. For those in a very controlling, coercive relationship, Christmas carries with it a number of dangers. The person delivering this kind of abuse in the home, doesn’t need alcohol, they need to be and feel in control of the home. Keeping a façade up while others are around is challenging for our abuser, and once everyone else has left, then is the time they unleash that on their victim. Their children and pets are likely to feel it brewing too. Our abuser will remember the minutest detail of the day, have issues with the presents that were bought, the amount everyone was drinking, who said what to whom, the dinner that they ate which wasn’t up to standard, the mess that has been left behind, the children eating too much chocolate and being spoilt by other family members. Literally everything will have been a problem and somehow their victim will feel it’s all their fault. So don’t just be thinking about a stereotypical potential abuser being someone who likes a drink and gets a bit loose with their words and fists, think too about a potential abuser who presents as the life and soul of the party in front of everyone. Notice their victim, notice their children, notice their pets. They won’t be the life and soul of the party, they’ll be anxious, nervous, on edge and desperately trying to foresee and plan for the night ahead. Please think of them and keep your phone close by if they do reach out to you or knock on your door. Support and Safety Planning · Have a trusted person you can speak to or contact if you feel things might escalate in your home. · Have a codeword that you can quickly text or say if you are feeling things might be brewing. · Try to keep your own intake of alcohol under control as this may impair your own ability to see things clearly and respond quickly. · Have a quick escape route out of the home. · Think about keeping a small emergency bag with essentials in with a trusted friend that you can access if you need to leave the home quickly. · Always contact 999 if you feel in imminent danger, the Police are the only people that can respond quickly if you are at risk of harm. · Access and become familiar with Alpha Vesta’s list of Regional and National Support Services on our homepage. www.alphavesta.com. You could ask a trusted friend or work colleague to print this off for you to put in your emergency bag if you need to leave quickly over Christmas. National 24 hr Domestic Abuse Helpline (for women): 0808 2000 247 National Men’s Advice Line (for men): 0808 8010 327 Essex COMPASS (for those living in Essex): 0330 333 7444 Feel free to share our blog by clicking here ­­­­­­­­Domestic Abuse in the News - links In our ‘Domestic Abuse in the News’ section, I have highlighted an investigation by the UN around Parental Alienation. Despite the UN basing their investigations within the ‘Violence against Women and Girls’ remit, the organisation Shared Parenting, Scotland, quotes ‘we know of both fathers and mothers in Scotland who have been rejected in this manner’. It’s an interesting article which will prompt lots of debate. UN to investigate use of ‘parental alienation’ tactic in custody cases | Global development | The Guardian The second article highlights the first successful prosecution for ‘non-fatal strangulation’ in Leicestershire. This was new legislation that came out as part of the Domestic Abuse Act, 2021. Another interesting read despite some graphic details about the violence experienced. It’s good to see this new legislation being effectively used to prosecute offenders. Domestic abuse victim thought she would die at hands of partner in horrendous attack - Leicestershire Live (leicestermercury.co.uk) I’m also highlighting a really excellent article written by HR Magazine on the ‘Responsibilities of an Employer’ around domestic abuse which gives some proactive advice from an HR stance on the response to domestic abuse within the Workplace. HR Magazine - Domestic abuse: what are your responsibilities as an employer?­­­­­­­­Dates for the Diary­­­­Core 5: (Advanced) Understanding Risk Support & Safety Planning 11 January 2023­­­Male Culture & Domestic Abuse 50 extra places added 2 February 2023­­­Enhanced Core 3: Developing a Workplace Response to Domestic Abuse 22 February 2023­­



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