An educational support group for women who have experienced domestic abuse is taking place through Bournemouth University.
The programme, called the Phoenix Programme, is based on an interactive pilot in Kent that takes women through a 10-week group session looking at personal safety, power and control, warning signs, impact on family, and healthy boundaries and relationships as well as a focus upon wellbeing.
Bournemouth University academics are running the session as a way of offering additional capacity and choice in the local area for domestic abuse support.
Dr Orlanda Harvey, a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at BU and one of the academics leading the programme in Bournemouth said, “The programme has been designed to be interactive, inclusive and educational. We cover safety planning, the tactics used in an abusive relationship, the warning signs as well as personal boundaries and building healthy relationships in a way that is engaging and promotes self-care.”
Dr Louise Oliver, also a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at BU and leading the programme, added, “As trained social workers, we know the importance of working with women to help them explore their experiences. It is great that we can offer this free programme to women in our local community.”
The sessions take place in the evening, which provides a different option for women looking for support outside of working hours. It has run three times previously in the local area, with the next 10-week programme due to begin this Autumn.
One previous participant commented, "The Phoenix Programme gave me a space where I felt safe to discuss my experiences of abuse and to listen to other people's. It was non-judgemental and helped to see it was the perpetrator's behaviour that kept me in the relationship, and it wasn't my fault. The biggest takeaway was to recognise abusive relationship and to be able to walk away".
Another participant said, "The Phoenix Programme helped me to recognise that I was not alone in the situation I was in and that lots of women had also been in my position. It enabled me to completely change my perspective and gave me the strength that I had desperately been trying to find to draw healthy boundaries and stop the abuse. By voicing what I was going through, it allowed me to process the situation in a safe space. The facilitators, Orlanda and Lou made to feel extremely supported and validated".
Orlanda Harvey continued, “The university has been very supportive of us doing this in addition to our roles as academics. It also helps us as we’re able to take our experiences and help future generations of graduates deal sensitively and responsibly with such issues in the community. We’re really proud that we are able, through the university, to offer these services locally.”
The programme is available to anyone in the BCP area, including Bournemouth University staff and students. Referrals can be made directly, or through a service provider. If you are affected by these issues and feel like you may benefit from this programme, contact [email protected] and a member of the project team will be in touch.