Lotus Domestic Abuse Recovery Programme

Due to the current pandemic our groups have been postponed, but we are working through the logistics of delivering an online service. More information will be released as soon as possible.

“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.”

We believe that all adults and children deserve a life free from domestic abuse.  We understand that domestic abuse is not always about what has been done to the victim, but what has been taken away.

  • Home-Start East Sussex (historically Home-Start South Downs)  has been providing support to local families who have experienced domestic abuse since 1996.
  • In 2016 we started delivering domestic abuse recovery groups for women in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
  • In 2018-19 we supported 68 women who attended groups held in Eastbourne, Hove, Lewes Hastings and Seaford.  The groups gave them the confidence and skills to keep themselves and their 148 children free from future abusive relationships.


Our free 6-week Lotus domestic abuse recovery programme is held in various locations across East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.  It was designed with the help of the University of Brighton and is based on the most up-to-date research and approaches. Our programme meets the SafeLives Leading Lights quality standard, the gold star for specialist domestic abuse services. A SafeLives Leading Lights accreditation ensures that the programme is effective, sustainable and – above all – safe.

The programme empowers women to make decisions and take control of their lives, to help keep them and their children safe from abuse in future relationships.

What is covered:

  • opportunity to discuss the different types of domestic abuse those attending have experienced including early warning signs
  • elements of a healthy relationship
  • the impact that DA has had and how to take back control
  • managing anxiety and building confidence
  • for those with children, parenting children who have experienced trauma.

The programme helps women to draw on and recognise their own strengths and community support, helping them to identify early warning signs and break the cycle of abuse.   It is delivered with the knowledge that victim-survivors are the experts in their own lives and are not passive, as in our experience all victims of violence resist violence in their own way.

Please contact us if you want to be alerted about future programmes in your area.


Programmes in 2020

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, all programmes are being delivered online using the Zoom software until further notice.

Hastings and Saint Leonards-on-sea (June) – places available

Hastings and Saint Leonards-on-sea (August) – places available

Other programmes will be added throughout the year as they are confirmed.


“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”


Suitable participants for the programme are:

  • women aged 16+ with lived experience of domestic abuse but now consider themselves safe
  • In line with our mission we prioritise those with children/stepchildren (regardless of age and where the children are actually living), but we also support women who do not have children
  • Standard risk who are not currently in crisis, but vulnerable as a result of DA experience (referrers: 0-9 ticks  on the DASH RIC).   Perpetrator not assessed as a risk to her or the other women attending the programme.

We have limited funding via our volunteer home-visiting service to offer victim-survivors with preschool children weekly support in their own home or temporary accommodation where it is safe to do so.  If the referral is made in good time before the start of the programme and relationships have been built, our volunteers could look after children so that clients can attend the programme.  Regrettably this service can only be offered to those living in East Sussex (not Brighton & Hove as yet)    Please do talk to us about this.

Self Referrals

If you want to attend the Lotus programme yourself, please complete the Intake Form below and email to info@hses.org.uk.    If you need help, do ask a friend or a professional to help you to complete it.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Partner Agency Referrals

If you work for a partner agency and would like to refer someone to the Lotus programme please download and complete an Intake Form below and email to info@hses.org.uk  If the client has experienced domestic abuse within the last three months please also complete a DASH RIC form.

Intake Form

Guidance for Professionals

BH ES DASH RIC Form East Sussex Brighton Hove July (revised 2016)

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

“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.”

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


East Sussex

  • Based on national figures, it is estimated that 6,500 children are exposed to domestic abuse each year in East Sussex

In East Sussex in the 12 months to August 2018, there were a total of:

  • 9,251 reports of Domestic Abuse-related incidents and crimes (+9.6% compared to the previous year). – Eastbourne 2,220, Hastings 2,668, Wealden 1,674 Lewes 1,416 Rother 1,273
  • 1,345 reports of Sexual Offences (+7.8% compared to the previous year)
  • 375 reports of Stalking
  • Between Jan  and Dec  2018, there were 844 high risk cases discussed in East Sussex, at the Hastings & Rother MARAC and Eastbourne, Lewes & Wealden MARAC. This represented an increase of 123 cases (17%). Of the 844 cases, there were 203 repeat victims (24%) and a total of 1,349 children living in the household of victims. There were 45 males victims (5%),

So what does HSES do about this? It’s our charity’s aim to support or signpost everyone who asks for our help.

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.

In the future we would like to be able to offer support to male victims as we acknowledge that men as well as women can experience domestic abuse. However, there are  differences in terms the frequency and the nature of the abuse, which is why our first targeted domestic abuse service is aimed at women.  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, which is the reason why we felt that our first specialist domestic abuse service needed to be specifically aimed at women. 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]

If you are a male victim of domestic abuse you can receive support here:




[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

For more information, please see our Lotus Domestic Abuse Recovery Programme FAQs.