Case Study - Refuge Services
A 47 year old woman (C) referred herself to North Derbyshire Women’s Aid NDWA) after making the decision to leave her abusive husband of 18 years.
‘C’ had been happily married for 8 years when her husband became abusive with her, calling her names and making her feel as though she was unattractive. One morning she found used needles in the bathroom, she confronted her ex-partner who denied them being his. This is the point where the abuse turned from being emotional to physical, she became subject to regular episodes of violence. As well as the emotional and physical abuse he was also very financially controlling in order to fund his heroin addiction.
When she arrived at the refuge ‘C’ was extremely distressed and concerned about her future. She didn’t know what to do about money or her job. It was distressing her that she couldn’t understand why this had happened to her. She was also very frightened and needed reassurance that there was a good security system in place.
The refuge worker re assured ‘C’ about the security in refuge, showing her the panic alarms and CCTV systems. The out of hours service was also explained to ‘C’, how to contact a worker in an emergency. She said that she felt comforted that there would be someone at the end of the phone if needed during the night. The refuge worker explained that she was in control of when she wanted to talk with staff and that we would empower her in terms of her decision making processes.
Concerns raised from doing a joint safety and needs and risk assessment plan were:
- Worry over safety whilst in the refuge
- Extreme anxiety and distress
- Concerns over eating, she hadn’t been eating very well in recent months and had lost a lot of weight.
- ‘C’s situation had meant that she had to leave her job and had no income.
- Her name was on all the bills in the last property that she owned with her ex, she was anxious regarding potential accumulation of debt.
- ‘C’ wanted to pursue a divorce as a matter of urgency.
- Lack of confidence and self esteem.
- Worries about not fitting in and being able to make friends whilst in the refuge.
She was encouraged and supported in making an appointment with the doctor with regards to her feeling anxious, the doctor recommended that she be signed off sick and was prescribed anti-depressants, she was hesitant at first to take them but after some reassurance from the doctor she decided that it would be a good idea. She contacted her employer who were very supportive and reassured her that when she felt able to return to work then her job would be kept open for her. This boosted her mood incredibly as one of her fears was that she wouldn’t be able to return to work.
There was support given by refuge workers in claiming Incapacity Benefit, she didn’t know where the job centre was and was anxious about going on her own. The refuge worker attended the interview with her and ‘C’ expressed that this had made the process a lot easier. She needed a lot of reassurance that it is ok to be claiming benefits and that she was entitled to them, as her feelings on claiming money were very negative. ‘C’ had always worked and believed that benefits were for people who couldn’t be bothered to work. After a long talk about her feelings on this she became confident that she was doing the right thing and started to realise that she was entitled to financial support as she couldn’t work at the moment and it was her right to receive incapacity benefit.
An appointment with a solicitor was arranged to initiate divorce proceedings and any settlement from the property. The solicitor was extremely helpful and told her that she could leave everything for her to deal with. This was a great relief and ‘C’ felt she could trust her solicitor. With this in place, her mood and confidence levels began to improve and ‘C’ was able to make eye contact when speaking and began to smile.
It was suggested to her that she attend the Freedom Programme. The course was fully explained and encouragement to attend was given. She thought it would be a good idea. After the first session she came in to the office full of enthusiasm for the course, she felt as though she was beginning to develop an understanding of how she had been treated and how it wasn’t her fault.
She was encouraged to be involved in the running of the refuge and was present when house checks and fire/panic alarm tests were done. ‘C’ contributed in house meetings and started to form good relationships with other residents. As she became more confident she stated that she would like to be a buddy for a new resident. She said that this really boosted her confidence and made her feel that she had a role within the house. She also began to develop an involvement with children’s activities as she loved to be around children. ‘C’ also began to engage with staff in a much more confident and assertive way. She became more able in making decisions and in talking about what she wanted from the future. With support she started making arrangements to move on from the refuge and disclosed that she was excited at being able to have her own home.
When the time came for her to move to her new home she was very positive about her future. NDWA Floating Support service was set up for her and she was told she could still access NDWA Advice Centre services. Safety planning was discussed and the Housing Association with whom she was re-housed arranged to meet with her once she had moved in to add additional security measures to her property.
Jennifer- Refuge Worker: