Case Studies

K’s story

K arrived at SWA with her 3 children after experiencing domestic abuse for many years from her partner. K lived in another part of the country and felt anxious about living in a new city with children. One of her children had additional needs which meant finding a school locally would need to be done carefully. K was very withdrawn and exhausted from the abuse. Her oldest child would often help her with the two younger children. K was given time and space to settle into her new flat and get the children settled. The SWA team supported her with activities for the children so that she could have some much needed time on her own. SWA also supported her with securing school and nursery places, and to press charges against her partner. K was concerned her partner may seek to have contact with the children but SWA staff worked with a local solicitor to make sure any contact would be limited and observed. K felt more confident to state her wishes after she had pressed charges, which were successful. K had acrued debts due to her partner which SWA supported to be removed, and helped K to set up her own bank account. The children’s worker at SWA and parenting support worker helped K in developing stronger bonds with her children and build a routine with the children. The benefits of this support were quikcly seen in the children who were happy to be safe and away from the abuse. One of the children started to talk about the abuse in his 1-1 sessions with the children’s worker and drew his feelings.

M’s story

M was fleeing financial and emotional abuse from her ex-parnter who was the father of her then 2-month-old daughter. M had been kidnapped and trafficked into the UK by a family member in the EU for prostitution pruposes, and had suffered significant prolonged trauma as a result. Social care became involved and M was terrified of losing her daughter since she had already lost custody of her 3 other children due to being trafficked. She also had health concerns relating to untreated Hepatitis B and D. However, Sheffield Women’s Aid liaised with other services to ensure M had additional support outside of what SWA was able to offer, including City Hearts, Snowdrop, and Archer Project who have provided M with support for her immigration status. She was also supported with finances, transititoning her from maternity pay from her previous employer to Universal Credit, as well as applying for enhanced DLA and PIP. This allowed M to have greater financial security. M was also supported in seeking legal advice which led to her pressing assault charges against her ex-partner. M went to court and gave evidence, securing a non-molestation order for 5 years, and no contact with their daughter. Giving evidence required M to have confidence to agree to do it. She felt more able to do this after gaining confidence from receiving support. She worked with staff to improve her confidence and self-esteem as well as develop her English skills, and is able to read and understand English more confidently. M received support in securing a property where she could live independently, and ensure the transition from living in the refuge to her own property was done in a way that was at the right speed for M. Having her own place meant she and her daughter could make plans for the future. M said that SWA was “the family she never had” and allowed her to nurture her relationship with her child.

S’s story

S arrived in the UK on a spousal visa and soon realised that living with her extended family and husband would mean she would experience abuse on a daily basis. S was frightened she would be sent ‘back home’ if she left, and spoke little English to try and get help. Her husband and in-laws made repeated threats about having her deported and kept her passport. S was worried she may never be able to leave and that she may get pregnant which would trap her even more in the home. After a serious incident, the police had been called by the neighbours who identified that S was experiencing abuse from her husband and in-laws. For her safety, S was moved to SWA’s refuge/ She was very fearful and emotional as she had no family or friends in the UK, and had little contact with her family abroad. She made friends with some other women and started to grow in confidence daily. SWA supported her to have the right to remain in the UK and therefore be able to claim benefits, which enabled S to attend training and courses locally. She enjoyed the cultural events and activities, and would help staff get them ready. S took a while to be ready for independent housing as she didn’t feel confident enough to live on her own and manage her money. SWA helped her manage her money through support with budget plans and practical support with shopping and cooking to manage on a budget. SWA also supported S to attend meetings often and S became more confident in making her own decisions. She attended the groupwork programmes offered by SWA and attended many activities to make more friends. After quite some time, S was able to be more assertive in sharing her opinion about where she wanted to live after being in the SWA refuge which SWA thought was a real demonstration of her taking back control over things that would affect her life. S left the refuge.

Y’s story

Y had experienced physical and emotional abuse from her partner for several years, but had become concerned at the increasingly regular levels of abuse. She had called the police more frequently, and after a serious assault, decided to move to refuge for her safety. Y was worried about being able to bring her 2 pet dogs if she left and this had been the reason she stayed for so long. Y’s partner had harmed the dogs before and threatened to do so again. Y was able to bring her dogs to SWA after finding out other refuges were not able to accept her dogs. Y felt that being able to bring her pets made the choice to come to a refuge easier. Y had been worried about what a refuge would be like but she was surprised to see she would have her own self-contained flat in an area that had lovely outside space and walks nearby. Being able to be out in nature has helped her settle in and recover from her abuse as she feels she can have the space to process how she is feeling. Y attended the groupwork and regular resident meetings and was an active participant in activities. Y helped SWA to recruit new staff as part of the recruitment panel, which helped her think about returning back to work and using her skills. Y received support to ensure she was claiming all the benefits she was entitled to, and agree to a repayment plan for debts she had accrued, and agreement for some debts to be removed due to her abusive partner. Y attended local colleges to learn health and beauty courses, and helped other women learn cooking and baking in the refuge. She has gone on to secure her own home with her dogs.

X’s story

X had experienced physical, emotional and financial abuse, and daily control over what she could wear, who she could meet and talk to. She came to SWA as a single person but had a dependent child who resided with her parents. X presented as a very independent and capable person when first arriving and didn’t seem to need too much support from SWA, and wanted to manage things for herself after being controlled for so long. After a epriod of time, it was clear that X had additional support needs for alcohol due to binge drinking and during these times would meet her abusive partner, often returning with cuts and bruises. She would minise the abuse to staff but staff recognised she needed support with her alochol use and being coerced into meeting her abusive partner. Staff supported X to report incidents of abuse to the police, and worked with an alcohol based service to start to help her regain control. X was referred to the MARAC to co-ordinate the support of other services and identify the level of risk she faced from her perpetrator. X recognised, with support, that the death of her son over 5 years ago was a trigger for her alcohol use and wanted support to reduce her dependency. From the groupwork programmes SWA offered, she was able to identify that her trauma from domestic abuse and death of her son were bringing up feelings she felt were hard to udnerstand, but she worked with staff to explore these and reach out for support. After receiving support for several months, she felt she was ready to live independently. SWA supported her to bid for properties and be successful in obtaining a property to move to. SWA supported X to receive grants to help furnish the property and then move in and live independently.