Courses for Women With Lived Experience of Domestic Abuse

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“A very helpful and friendly group.  Glad I was offered a place on the course as I now have a much clearer view of how an unhealthy relationship works so I can now heal myself and my son from our experience of domestic abuse.”

Do you believe that every woman and child deserves a life free from domestic violence?

Home-Start East Sussex (historically Home-Start South Downs)  has been providing support to local families who have experienced domestic abuse since 1996.   We started delivering our domestic abuse courses in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove in 2016.

Our free 11 week course is a safe women-only space offering a strengths-based approach to the nationally acclaimed Freedom Programme.  Our female facilitators support women who have experience of living with domestic abuse (either now or in the past).  They recognise that women-victim-survivors are the experts in their own lives and do not see victim-survivors as passive, as in our experience all resist violence in their own way.  Even resistant thoughts or small acts not noticed by others indicate her desire to escape the abuse.

Our next courses will be held in Lewes and Hove starting September 2018.

For more information please submit an Enquiry Form or phone/text 07505 426118 to arrange a confidential chat with Sarah, if necessary letting her know if and when it is safe to call back.

 By the end of the course victim-survivors will

  • have a better understanding of the different tactics and behaviour used by domestic abusers
  • recognise and feel empowered by the strength they have shown in resisting abuse – however subtle – in order to keep their own dignity and character whilst being mistreated and degraded
  • understand that perpetrators will do all they can to stop resistance and ultimately only perpetrators can ensure victim-survivors’ safety
  • have a better understanding of how domestic abuse affects children (short-term and long-term), even if they are not physically hurt or in the same room when it happens.  It also details how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed
  • have a better idea about the types of positive behaviour they can expect from  ‘Mr Right’ (and what he can expect from her) when in a healthy relationship
  • be better able to recognise the early warning signs of domestic abuse
  • feel less isolated due to meeting other women who have shared similar experiences
  • feel more confident to have a future free from domestic abuse

I thought I was cracking up. I thought I was making it out to be worse than it is. But now I can see, I can see what it was all about.”

“My expectations were more than met.  I have had interventions and domestic violence work done in the past but nothing has compared to the intervention and help received on this course.”

“I am finding what I have been through and how I was treated wasn’t right.”

“It opened my eyes and made me make a strong decision to leave the relationship I was in by the second session”



In line with our mission we prioritise supporting women with children/ stepchildren (wherever they are living), but we also support women who do not have children.

If you would like to enquire about future courses, please submit an Enquiry Form.  We will then phone you back for an informal chat in the first instance.

We accept submitted Enquiry Forms from professionals wanting to refer.  It is the third party’s responsibility to gain permission to share the potential service-user’s contact details with us.    Confidentiality is always our priority to ensure the victim-survivor’s privacy.

We no longer send out referral forms and instead ask referrers to fill out an enquiries form on-line for the following reasons:

  1. Referrers have told us they struggle to find the time to fill out detailed forms
  2. Forms go out of date
  3. We were receiving a lot of sensitive personal information from referrers about people/families that we sometimes did not end up supporting.  We now only request minimum information from referrers that is proportionate enough to be able to make contact  i.e. name, means of contact and also to make us aware of any safeguarding/health & safety issues if we were to home-visit.  We only ask for more personal information once we have assessed the enquiry and have confirmed we can offer support and the service-user would like it.



“All other domestic abuse support in East Sussex is crisis intervention.  A lot of my clients are no longer in the abusive relationship but their experience is still affecting them.  Being able to refer them to a reflective course that will help them to understand their experience and to avoid abusive relationships in the future is really beneficial.”

We have limited funding to offer victim-survivors with preschool children who live in East Sussex (not Brighton & Hove as yet, regrettably) weekly support in her home, in Refuge or leaving Refuge where it is safe to do so.  This would be via our volunteer home-visiting service.

Domestic Violence Against Women – National and Local Figures

  • Every year 1 million women in the UK experience at least one incident of domestic abuse
  • Domestic abuse happens in all communities regardless of deprivation, education, age, sexuality, ethnicity or ability.
  • Women experience an average of 35 incidence of domestic abuse before reporting an incident to the police
  • 1 in 4 women in England will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes
  • Based on national figures, it is estimated that 6,500 children are exposed to domestic abuse each year in East Sussex
  • In the 12 months to the end of September 2014, a total of 7152 domestic abuse incidents and crimes were reported in East Sussex
  • Between October 2013 and September 2014 a total of 527 cases of domestic abuse in East Sussex were discussed at Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARACs) 98% were female, 2% were male, 7% were registered disabled, 12% were BME, 3% were LGBT

So what does HSES do about this? It’s our charity’s aim to support or signpost every woman who asks for our help. Once free from her abuser, she can start to build better lives for herself and her child/children.

Domestic abuse is a gendered crime

Every incident of domestic abuse should be taken seriously and each victim given access to the support they need. Any form of violence or abuse is unacceptable.

Men as well as women can experience domestic abuse. However, there are  differences in terms the frequency and the nature of the abuse.  Domestic abuse perpetrated by men against women is rooted in women’s unequal status in society and social constructions of gender and family.

The United Nations defines gender based violence in the following way:

“The definition of discrimination includes gender based violence, that is, violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.” (CEDAW 1992: para. 6).

Women are far more likely than men to be killed by partners/ex-partners. In 2015/16, this was 44% of female homicide victims killed by a partner or ex-partner, compared with 7% of male victims.[1]

One study of 96 cases of domestic abuse recorded by the police found that men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment. In a six year tracking period the majority of recorded male perpetrators (83%) had at least two incidents of recorded abuse, with many having a lot more than two and one man having 52 repeat incidents. Whereas in cases where women were recorded as the perpetrator the majority (62%) had only one incident of abuse recorded and the highest number of repeat incidents for any female perpetrator was eight. The study also found that men’s violence tended to create a context of fear and control; which was not the case when women were perpetrators. [2]


[1] Office for National Statistics, Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, Year ending March 2016, Chapter 2: Homicide (Published online: Office for National Statistics, 2017 – See Tab 2.05 in the Excel file linked to from section 6 of this web page)

[2] Hester, M, Who Does What to Whom? Gender and Domestic Violence Perpetrators in English Police Records (European Journal of Criminology, 2013 10: 623- 637), pp. 627 – 628.

Thanks to Women’s Aid for the above information.


National Support Organisations