Domestic violence: Wakefield Council offer help to break the cycle of abuse

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A night in the police cells was the wake up call one domestic abuse perpetrator needed to get help to change his violent behaviour.

John (not his real name), was arrested after a drunken row, when he violently assaulted his partner ten years ago.

A stay in the police station prompted him to turn to Wakefield Council’s domestic abuse service for help.

John, who had never been in trouble with the police before, joined a men’s support group.

And he says it has given him an insight into why he acted as he did and offered him alternative behaviours and coping strategies.

He now shares his experiences and listens to other men, who help each other to remain focused on positive and not abusive behaviour.

He said: “I’ve come to understand that growing up in a home where there was abuse and neglect affected me deeply.

“Like many men I didn’t have any emotional support, apart from the support I had from my wife and there weren’t any other people around to listen to me.

“I had a tendency to be immature, which wasn’t good for the relationship.”

John has never been abusive since his arrest and has an altered outlook on life since making the decision to get help.

He said: “The support groups I’ve been to mean there are people who will listen. There’s no alcohol, banter or sport – which is how men tend to bond on a superficial level.

“In the group, we recognise and talk about the issues that are affecting us. It is a safe space where we can be heard, as well as listening to others.

“And I’ve realised that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to show vulnerability and express emotion. I’ve also learned to communicate clearly and if I agree or disagree, I will say so.

“I would say to anyone who has scared a loved one or scared themselves with their own actions – it is possible to change your behaviour and be happy.

“There is help available locally and you need to take the first step by getting in touch with the Domestic Abuse Service.”

Volunteers at the service are specially trained to provide immediate support to victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse including physical and emotional abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour, honour based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Coun Maureen Cummings, chair of the community safety partnership, said: “No-one should ever be subjected to any kind of abuse at home or anywhere else.

“We want victims and perpetrators to report it, and report it sooner, so we can provide them with the support they need.

“The Domestic Abuse Service is available seven days a week so if you think you could benefit from its support, please get in touch as soon as you can.”

Wakefield Council has recently been awarded White Ribbon Status in recognition of the work it does to support those affected by domestic abuse.

The White Ribbon campaign is an international campaign to stop domestic violence. It was created by a group of men who wanted to end violence against women.

The campaign enables men to make a pledge to never condone violence against women or stand by when they know it is happening.

To be awarded White Ribbon status, the council has demonstrated its continued commitment to raising awareness of domestic abuse and supporting those to help end it.

Coun Richard Forster one of Wakefield’s Ambassadors for the campaign and Coun Cummings unveiled the plaque in Wakefield One.

Coun Forster said: “We are delighted to have been awarded White Ribbon status as part of our work to tackle domestic abuse in the district.

“We’ll continue to work with local community groups, sports clubs and Academies to help support those who are affected by abuse.”

The service offers support to both victims and perpetrators at seven hubs in Castleford, Featherstone, Havercroft, Hemsworth, Pontefract and Wakefield, and aims to break the cycle of abuse.

To contact the Wakefield District Domestic Abuse Service call 0800 915 1561 or visitwww.wakefield.gov.uk/domesticabuse