Domestic Abuse: a gendered issue, but not a binary one

Many years ago, when staff from Oasis would speak at men’s community events, usually things like Rotary Club meetings, we might joke and say, ‘You may have heard that we don’t like men, that’s not true, we love men – we just couldn’t eat a whole one’. A corny, well-used number which could well have some feminists sharply drawing air between their lips in disapproving ways; but, we broke the ice in these men’s groups, we used that humour as a route to then explain the awful consequences of violence and abuse upon women and children. And over the years many of those men have become committed supporters of our work because they understand that this is not about men versus women but about society ensuring it supports those who are harmed.

Back then the only major service we provided was a refuge. It was for women and children then, and so it remains today. Now we offer a range of services that are gender-responsive but not always gender specific. That is an important differentiation. Women’s refuges are, for example, places of safe haven. They allow a woman, with or without children to find space to think, breathe and regroup. Women who have been at significant risk of harm, mentally or physically, and for whom having safe space and community is often pivotal in transforming their lives. Many of those women now work and volunteer with the organisation, or go off to do other wonderful things. Lots of whom just get the chance to start again, sometimes when they are already elderly, they have found the courage to take back control of their lives.

Saturday the 25th November was the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day in which domestic and sexual violence services up and down the country participated. This day allows us to raise awareness of the issues faced by women and girls in this country. The weekend prior to that saw International Men’s Day, which was supported by Kent’s PCC, Matthew Scott, with a conference. Again, an opportunity to raise awareness of issues which affect men. Being aware of issues, celebrating positive outcomes and coming together to think are all incredibly important things, and we were proud to contribute our learning to this event.

I feel struck by the way in which these two dates sit at opposite ends of the week this year. Marking a space between them which we feel it is important to bridge. Part of the ethos of the feminist movement was the drive to have gender as an equal matter, and today we see that, in law at least, it is. These days serve as a visual representation of the importance and value of not allowing binary divisions between man and woman to become something which separates us in our shared humanity. Binary divisions can carry the prospect of arguing about good & bad or right & wrong and this type of black and white thinking is unlikely to feed progress. Domestic abuse is an issue for humankind, it affects girl and boy children equally, and those girl and boy children grow up to be men and women. I do not mean they will grow up to live lives with domestic abuse as a feature, but rather that as a society we must be able to see the dynamics of the issues within which they have grown and will live.

Domestic abuse is a gendered issue, because the likelihood of being victimised in a dangerous relationship is significantly higher for women, and I think that as a sector and within communities we have to be able to deal with that knowledge. This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its triennial data report on domestic abuse which shows a small decrease in the prevalence of domestic abuse since 2012 and, the proportion of those willing to contact the police having gone up – both of these bode positively for the future. We hope to see reporting increase, especially from hidden victims. But, it still tells us that women are more likely to be killed. Of 454 domestic homicides in the U.K. between 2013-16 70% were the deaths of women. So, we know that women are at a higher risk of death in their intimate relationships. Womanhood becomes a high-risk indicator. It also tells us clearly that men are killed in their intimate relationships. The data also verifies what we know through research into coercion and control. Because it shows us that of the 454 homicides 394 (86.78%) were perpetrated by male suspects (there were 135 male victims, with 40 of these being killed by women).

This data correlates very clearly with the respected work of Evan Stark who defines it thus, ‘The coercive control model was developed to encompass the ongoing and multifaceted nature of the abuse which research shows is experienced by 60% to 80% of victimized women who seek outside assistance….’’ Coercive control is an ongoing pattern of domination in a relationship. The remaining 20-40% of women in the research he cites would have been found to have been experiencing different typologies of abuse. Coercive control is the main concern in our work, it is that type which most often leads to serious harm or death. Evan Stark also finds in his research that in 90% of cases the perpetrator of this specific type of abuse are male, which correlates with the ONS data.

The data also shows us that self-reports of abuse have nearly doubled for teens which I hope means that teenage young people are feeling less inclined to tolerate these behaviours.  Just so you kNOw, a programme run by Oasis, tells us that many young women and men feel unhealthy pressure to have sexual relationships or to behave unacceptably within them. We can see how this is informed by the culture in which they live, and by the more toxic types of femininity and masculinity our culture perpetuates. This for us really evidences the need to work fully, and across society, with all young people to challenge the culture, the thinking and the behaviours which inform and create these problems. In this way perhaps, we will avoid or avert some of the adult issues, which in turn avoids some of the harms to children. Perhaps this is a simplification, but there are multiple opportunities to chip away at such a vast and complex problem.

We aim for a virtuous rather than a vicious circle, and as an organisation, we aim for services that are tailored to those who need them, because it would be wrong to only help the majority. We believe at Oasis that this should be okay to say, that men and women should be happy to acknowledge the stark reality of the data. Because, it is also okay to say that women can harm too, and by no stretch of the imagination are all men harmful.  Remember, we don’t want to pursue binary divisions, every man was once a little boy, and every woman was once a little girl.  Domestic abuse is a problem for a diverse range of people, predominantly women, but also men, and men and women from a range of backgrounds, who have different types of relationships. We would like to know of and support as many of them as possible, for all women and men in our community who find themselves victimised to know that there is no shame, it is not your fault. Because minority or not, the act of abuse in an intimate relationship is wrong.

Your Fundraising Efforts

Your Fundraising Efforts

We are so fortunate to have a fantastic community who fundraise, volunteer and donate to help keep people in Kent safe. Below is some of the work that's been done this autumn. A massive thank you to everyone who has helped.

Member Grants

We were very grateful to receive a donation of £1000 in the form of Community Member Grants from District Councillors Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine to purchase a range of books to help children come to terms with, and understand, the trauma they have suffered because of the abuse they have witnessed or even suffered themselves in the family home.

Fundraising Manager Loukia said, “These resources are much needed. We know that the effects of domestic abuse are devastating and inter-generational and also that they impact on children’s future happiness and educational attainment, and we are very grateful to Barry and Karen for their support”.

Councillor Lewis said, ''I am delighted to support your charity and your important work that you do in Thanet".

Cllr Barry Lewis and Bernadette Hawkes

Cllr Barry Lewis and Bernadette Hawkes

KM Assault Course:

Well done to Kat Cheesman and her team who took on the KM Assault course this October. They did fantastically well as a team coming 4th overall and managed to raise £200 along the way. Kat said "We've all been suffering the last few days. I don't think I've ever ached so much in my life". Well done Kat and team and thank you!

Team photo: Kat Cheesman & Team

Team photo: Kat Cheesman & Team

Addington Street Revival Fair

Celebrity hairdresser Marcello Marino teamed up with the Addington Street Revival Fair on Sunday 3rd September. Marcello provided haircuts in exchange for donations while a team of Addington Street Revival Fair volunteers organised a bric a brac stall. The event was a fantastic success and the team raised an impressive £800 for Oasis.

Marcello, Becky and the Addington Cheque

Marcello, Becky and the Addington Cheque

Cornwallis

Thanks to a generous grant from Cornwallis Lodge of the Freemasons, children at the Refuge have been able to enjoy a number of Summer activities including a sports day and picnic as well as access to several local attractions such as Howletts, Wildwood and swimming sessions. These fun activities are so important to help mend the mother and child bond often damaged following stressful experiences, as well as provide the exercise and fun times that all children deserve.

Cornwallis Sports Day

Cornwallis Sports Day

Inner Wheel

The Inner Wheel of Margate chose Oasis as their Charity of the Year and donated a fantastic £1,000 towards our work. Thank you for your fantastic support.

Photo: Chairman Derrick Downs with Susan Midgley of Inner Wheel Margate

Photo: Chairman Derrick Downs with Susan Midgley of Inner Wheel Margate

Serenaders

On Sat 15th July we attended and gave a talk at the Serenaders Ladies Choir charity concert in Palm Bay. Not only was it a really enjoyable evening, but we also received donations from the group totalling £607, for which we are truly grateful.

Our thanks go to the Choir and to organiser Janice Regan and for all their support.

The Serenaders Ladies Choir charity concert

The Serenaders Ladies Choir charity concert

St Lawrence College

Thank you to the Senior School Pupils at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate for raising a fantastic £929.87 over the course of last year at a number of events celebrating the international nature of the college. Events included a Fashion Show, music and dance performances, raffle and food stalls. The amount raised is a credit to the students' hard work and efforts.

Fundraiser Dee Murphy & St Lawrence College Students

Fundraiser Dee Murphy & St Lawrence College Students

Boxing Gala

The Rotary Club of Thanet's annual Boxing Gala was another fantastic success raising a whopping £32,251.50. We were delighted to be awarded a donation of £5000 towards our work. Our thanks go to everybody involved in staging this incredible event.

Rotary Boxing Gala raises monmey for Oasis

Rotary Boxing Gala raises monmey for Oasis

Batchelors Patisserie

A huge thank you goes to the team at Batchelors Patisserie for not only choosing us as their Charity of the Year and fundraising but also donating any unused stock to help feed the families who stay with us. Thank you Batchelors!

Gillian Turner of Batchelors Patisserie

Gillian Turner of Batchelors Patisserie

Walpole Bay Swimmers

Congratulations to the Walpole Bay Swimmers who took to the waters at Hartsdown Pool in support of Oasis at the annual Rotary Swimathon. Their dedication to Oasis is shown year after year as they fundraise and swim to support our work. This year they had three teams of six swimmers which is an impressive turnout – thank you and well done to you all!

Photo: Walpole Bay Swimmers take on the Swimathon

Photo: Walpole Bay Swimmers take on the Swimathon

From everyone at Oasis, thank you.

 

Alcohol, Families and Domestic Abuse

Alcohol, Families and Domestic Abuse

The 13th to 17th of November is Alcohol Awareness Week. This year’s campaign is being spearheaded by Alcohol Concern whose focus is ‘Alcohol and Families’. The aim is to start an honest conversation about the impact of alcohol misuse on individuals and their families, challenge stigma and to signpost anyone who needs support towards the help they need.

We thought this would be the perfect time to talk about the ways in which drugs and alcohol use can impact on families who experience domestic violence and to highlight this resource produced by DrugRehab about the links between abuse and substance misuse.

Here are four ways we encounter substance misuse in our work:

1.    Numbing the pain of abuse

People who experience abuse often deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and physical pain. Abuse is also linked to the increased likelihood of miscarriage and stillbirth, and of victims developing lasting health problems, such as mental health disorders, eating disorders and physical health problems such as chronic pain or gastrointestinal disorders.

People have different strategies for coping with the trauma of their experiences. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as a coping strategy is a route to feel the pain less keenly. This use can create addiction, that often then increases a person’s vulnerability to further abuse.

Services must be aware of these links and remain open and non-judgmental in order to create the best outcomes for our clients, fear of stigma from services can be a major barrier to engagement.

2.    Abuse using drugs or alcohol

Domestic abuse is the habitual use of power and control exerted over someone with whom the perpetrator has a relationship. The abuse can be physical, emotional, financial or sexual. Drugs and alcohol can be an implement of abuse, used to keep the victim vulnerable and dependent.

Substance-involved domestic abuse can include:

  • Introducing partners to substances of abuse
  • Forcing partners to carry, sell or buy drugs
  • Encouraging substance use as a form of control over partners
  • Prostituting partners in exchange for drugs or money
  • Preventing partners from seeking and receiving substance abuse treatment
  • Enabling use and consequently disabling recovery

3.    Association with violent incidents

Research from the University of Bedfordshire found that within intimate relationships where one partner has a problem with alcohol or other drugs, domestic abuse is more likely than not to occur.[1] Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine also shows that both victims and abusers are 11 times more likely to be involved in domestic violence incidents on days of heavy substance use.

Abusing drugs or alcohol may exacerbate an abuser’s pre-existing violent tendencies and is therefore a major risk factor for domestic violence. However, it is important to note that substance use is not the cause of domestic abuse but that substance use increases the likelihood of a violent incident.

4.    Using the alcohol as an excuse for violence

An abusive person will use excuses and apologies to manipulate the person they are abusing. These excuses will seek to minimise the abuse and lay the blame for their actions elsewhere. Common examples might be to blame childhood experiences, mental illness or the use of substances before an incident.

These excuses claim a lack of control over the abusive tactics used, but abuse is always a choice. Perpetrators are able to control themselves in public, are able to control the way they present themselves and to hide evidence of their abuse.  

Those who engage in domestic violence are responsible for their actions despite any reasoning they use to rationalise their behaviour. Those who perpetrate domestic violence choose to wilfully engage in abusive behaviour, and therefore they are the sole cause of domestic violence.

Finding Help

Drug and Alcohol Support

If you are living in East Kent (Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway, Swale and Thanet) you can contact East Kent Community Drug and Alcohol Service.

They support anyone who has problems with drugs or alcohol. If you are worried about anyone, including yourself, and want to get help, please call 0300 123 1186 or email eastkent@rapt.org.uk.

Domestic Abuse Services

Oasis provides services in Thanet and Dover. You can find out how to make a referral here.

Anyone living in Kent can call Victim Support on 0808 168 9276 to access your local services.

 

[1] Galvani, S. (May 2010), ‘Supporting Families affected by substance use and domestic violence’, The Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, University of Bedfordshire, ADFAM,p.5

 

Tackling Adolescent to Parent Violence

Adolescent to Parent Violence (APV) is a concerning form of interpersonal abuse characterised by a young person using abusive behaviours to gain control over their parent or carer. It is beyond normal rebellious teenage behaviour in that it usually involves the adult being in fear of the young person, and having to order their life around the wishes of the adolescent.

Adolescent to Parent Violence.png

The prevalence of this issue has become increasingly apparent in recent years as more and more practitioners are coming across APV in the families they're working with. A quarter of young people exposed to domestic violence go on to demonstrate harmful behaviour within their own relationships. In 61% of cases the abuse is directed at their mother.[1]

In order to better equip our partners in recognising, understanding and combating this form of abuse, Oasis have teamed up with other domestic abuse charities around Kent to help Kent Safeguarding Children Board develop a training session for professionals which we will be delivering on Kent Children Safeguarding Board's behalf. This half-day session will be available to book through the Kent CPD Online soon.

Project Synergy, a 12 week programme, involves both the parent and child in support aims to tackle this violence. Find out more about it, our other programmes and how to refer here.

[1]http://www.safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Young%20People%20practice%20briefing%20for%20IDVAs%20FINAL.pdf

A big thank you to our Funders

We would like to say a huge thank you to The Henry Smith Charity and The Brook Trust Fund who have committed a further 3 years' funding for our mentoring programme. We mento young people who have been affected by domestic abuse or other adverse childhood experiences and who are deemed to be at risk of forming unhealthy intimate relationships of their own.  Early Intervention and Prevention work like this is of vital importance in breaking cycles of abuse that can have impact for generations.

 

Oasis celebrates Diwali!

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We celebrated Diwali at Support Group yesterday, as part of our ongoing programme of recognising the six major world religion’s traditions and festivals.

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One of our Peer Mentors brought Gulab Jamun (sweet doughballs) and lacha mithai (a type of sweet candy) to share with the group, and we all ate lots of samosa, pakora, sweets and home baked biscuits- all served off silver platters! We decorated Rangolis to put in the lobby of our building, to welcome our guests, and the children and staff helped to draw a large Rangoli design in our garden.

As Diwali is the festival of light, our staff wore bright, colourful dress and the group all joined in with lighting up some beautiful lanterns which we used to decorate the room.

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Support Group felt that this event had been a real success and gave us all a better insight into the meaning of this festival.

We would like to wish you all a very happy Diwali!

Friends Indeed!

The Friends of Oasis raised just under £2,000 for OASIS Women’s Refuge at their 3rd Annual Lunch held at the Yarrow Hotel Broadstairs on Tuesday 10th October. 

The Friends of Oasis Committee celebrating at the 3rd Annual Lunch

The Friends of Oasis Committee celebrating at the 3rd Annual Lunch

Guests from all over Thanet came together to enjoy a delicious meal prepared and served by the staff of East Kent College. Chair of the Friends, Maggie Elliott, made the introductions and Deborah Cartwright, CEO of Oasis Women’s Refuge Service, was the guest speaker. Ann Angus and other committee members organised the raffle and Glen Cheesman gave the closing remarks. Sincere thanks are given to all the ‘friends of friends’ who supported the event, the Yarrow for supporting the Charity and to the numerous benefactors who helped the make the event such a huge success. 

National Work Life Week

Its National Work Life week between October 2nd and October 6th 2017, and Oasis have been looking at ways in which we promote well-being in the workplace, and positive work-life balances.

Earlier in the year, staff from Pfizer volunteered their time and talents to refurbish our resident’s dining area, as part of a ‘Pfizer’s Colleagues for a Cause’ scheme. The benefits of corporate volunteering are numerous, such as: increasing employee wellbeing, encouraging a greater sense of balance between work and other activities, and an overall increase in the employee’s work satisfaction.

Oasis were delighted to be able to host the team from Pfizer, as it meant that the resident’s communal area in our refuge was transformed into a bright, attractive and comfortable living space. This has made a huge difference to the resident’s experience of living in the refuge and ensures that they are able to enjoy the room in which they eat, help the children with their homework and participate in communal activities.

One volunteer from Pfizer said: Making a difference matters and resulted in a truly noticeable difference…not only in the room that was refurbished, but in the hearts and minds of those on both the giving and receiving ends. Seeing the exceptional results of the Pfizer colleagues’ contributions, and receiving the very special appreciations that were expressed by the Oasis colleagues and residents was remarkably rewarding for all who were involved!’

You can follow Oasis on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about our National Work Life Week celebrations.

Are you interested in Volunteering with Oasis? Get in touch with us at: volunteer@oasisdaservice.org.

Oasis celebrates Rosh Hashanah

The Support Group had a wonderful time yesterday, celebrating Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year.

We spent the morning learning about Jewish traditions during this time of celebration, and shared sweet cakes and biscuits as well as apple pie. The Support Group and their children particularly enjoyed eating apples dipped in honey.

apples and honey.png

After the Support Group had ended for the day, staff, volunteers, and the women and children went down to the beach to throw breadcrumbs into the sea, symbolising the end of an old year, and the new beginnings before them. The highlight of the day was blowing a ‘shofar’ horn all the way down to the beach, which both the children AND staff members really enjoyed!

hands casting breadcrumbs cropped for social media.png

We will be learning about Diwali in October, and are looking forward to joining in the celebrations for this exciting festival.

Oasis wishes Shanah Tovah to everyone!

St Lawrence College International Fundraiser

Dee Murphy with Senior Students Tomife and Bilkisu

Thank you to the Senior School Pupils at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate for raising a fantastic £929.87 over the course of last year at a number of events celebrating the International nature of the College. Events included a Fashion Show, Music and dance performances, raffle and food stalls. The amount raised is a credit to the students' hard work and efforts.

If your school could benefit from an assembly or workshop from Oasis get in touch at fundraise@oasisdaservice.org

Oasis Sports Day!

Our Peer Mentors arranged for Sports Day to take place a few weeks ago, as part of the programme of Peer Mentor Summer Events, designed to give our residents and their children the chance to get active, explore Thanet, and most importantly, have some fun! 

Our guest blogger, Natasha Vignon, has written about the experience, for both the residents and the Peer Mentors: 

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The sunny skies were the perfect match for the atmosphere of Oasis’ sports day event.

The event, made to bring a community together, gave the children an chance to play games such as rounders and Connect Four under the sunshine in the park whilst sparking the opportunity for the residents to come together and spend time with other residents who may be going through the same issues as them.

Sat along the big green in the park, the children were feeling animated as they played Hook-a-Duck before all jumping up to race against each other in the sprint and the egg & spoon race. Meanwhile the mums got a chance to bond and create new friendships with each other over a cream bun.

One peer mentor said that the occasion could be used as a distraction from their day-to-day struggles, whilst another said that the event would provide the residents with a “safe, good time.”

“Today shows the women that they’re not alone.”

Oasis Takes Pride!

Oasis Stall.JPG

We were honoured to be able to attend Margate Pride on the 12th August, at Dreamland. Our team of wonderful volunteers were really generous in giving their time to help us raise awareness of the work that we do, as well as getting lots of feedback from people attending Pride about how we can continue to deliver the best service possible to our local communities. We even got to march in the Pride Parade, with our beautiful banner that our Support Group designed, which was a real highlight of the day!

One of our volunteers, Ellen Peet, has written a report about her experience- if you want to find out more about our time at Pride, read on!

oasis banner.jpg
Oasis Takes Pride

The Serenaders Ladies Choir

serenaders.JPG

On Sat 15th July we attended and gave a talk at the Serenaders Ladies Choir charity concert in Palm Bay. Not only was it a really enjoyable evening, but we also received donations from the group totalling £607, for which we are truly grateful.

Our thanks go to the Choir and to organiser Janice Regan and for all their support.

Broadstairs Rotary Club Donation

Our thanks go to the Rotary Club of Broadstairs for this fantastic donation of therapy equipment to use with the young people we work with. As well as a great selection of art and craft supplies, and carrying crates for our therapists, our young people now also have "Tangles", a therapeutic fidget-toy that helps them to deal with difficult emotions and anxiety.

Oasis Ball Fundraiser Success!

An evening of glitz and glamour held at The Pavilion on the Sands in Broadstairs has raised £10,000 for Oasis Domestic Abuse Service.  Over 120 guests enjoyed a complimentary drink on the Pavilion’s veranda, which boasts one of the best views in Thanet, courtesy of event sponsors Artemis Recruitment, followed by a 3 course meal in the ballroom.

The charity auction, called by the inimitable Frank Thorley, included lunch for 4 at London’s impressive SKY Garden which went for over £400 and a unique Yachting Experience donated by local businessman Peter Curtis which fetched over £900. All funds raised by the auction and raffle were then doubled by match-funding sponsors Santander whose staff came along to help on the night.

Oasis Fundraising Manager Loukia Michael said, ‘It was an incredible evening which simply would not have been possible without the hard work and support of Kim and Frank Thorley who have supported Oasis since we first opened our doors to those affected by domestic abuse, and who have helped us over the years to keep many women and children safe from serious harm’.

Birchington-based Thanetian Weddings and Events gave their time to personally decorate the room which looked magnificent dressed in Oasis colours and chandelier style table decor. Guests danced into the early hours to music by local band Co Co.

Dee Murphy from Oasis said, ‘it was wonderful to see so many local businesses come together to support The Oasis Ball. I would like to thank our generous sponsors: Thorley Taverns, Santander, Thanetian Weddings and Events and Artemis Recruitment as well as the firms and individuals who kindly donated to the auction and raffle, thank you!’

Oasis Celebrates Eid

Yesterday's support group was amazing. We started the morning with a taster session of meditation, after finding a safe quite space the group really enjoyed it and want the instructor to come back regularly!! After the meditation we got into the kitchen, preparing for our Eid celebration.

The support group, our refuge residents and staff got together in the dining room. One of our peer mentors brought her famous pakoras, we had biryani, samosas, quiches, salads, Gambian curries and mashed potatoes. As you can see we put on quite the spread. Three members of the support group dressed in their traditional dress the colours in their clothes were amazing.  One member of the group completed henna on everyone that wanted it done.

Every child was given a small bag of new coins as it is the tradition that all children receive new coins at Eid.

Oasis celebrates six religious festivals to celebrate in the refuge each year. It's a way to learn about different cultures, but more importantly, it's really fun and we get to share things that are important to us.

We are already looking forward to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year in September.

Golf Day Hole Sponsors - Hall of Fame

We'd like to thank our Golf Day 2017 event sponsors and 18 hole sponsors, who helped make this event a great success.

Our sincere thanks goes to event sponsors: Barclays Bank, Spurling Cannon, Lanes Printers and our Hole Sponsors: Standfast, Finns, Elgate, TW Services, Blaze Signs, Thorley Taverns, Saunders Electrical, Euromarine, TW Reco Pro, Grand Garage, Inspire People, Weston Holdings, Keel Toys, Highway Services, Business Computing Solutions, Cooke & Co. and Drinks Warehouse.

We look forward to seeing you next year!