We provide help and support for women who are or have suffered from domestic abuse from their partner or ex-partner.
- We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, especially in their own home.
- We believe that everyone has the right to a happy and healthy relationship.
- Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. It is not the victim’s fault.
- It is never ok and you don’t have to accept it.
Help is on hand at Stepping Stones
As a UK Registered charity, we do not charge for any of our support programmes, we also provide childcare to help those attending their appointments. Find out more about our domestic abuse help and support.
If you would like access to our domestic abuse support, please make a referral
Domestic abuse, or domestic violence, is defined across Government as any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
Abuse from a partner or ex-partner can be a one-off incident, but usually, there is a pattern of behaviour intended to control the victim. This can take place over a long period of time, where the victim may start to believe that the abuse is normal. Often the abuse does not end when the relationship ends. In fact, sometimes this may cause abuse to increase. If you are thinking of leaving your abusive partner, we would advise you to get support.
No one should be abused in their relationship. Stepping Stones is here to offer support and explore your options with you.
Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence. Abuse can also be psychological, sexual, financial, emotional and often a combination of some or all of these. Abuse that is not physical is often down-played, but is no less traumatic.
This is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, intimidation or other abuse used to harm, punish or frighten the victim. In 2015 this was made a criminal offence. You can read more about Coercive control here: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/controlling-or-coercive-behaviour-intimate-or-family-relationship
Psychological and/or emotional abuse
This is where an abuser makes the victim feel bad, undermines their confidence, makes them doubt themselves, isolates them from family and friends or any other abusive behaviour designed to have an emotional impact. If there are children in the house, the abuser may use children as further control over the victim.
Physical or sexual abuse
An abuser may be physically violent towards his partner by hitting, slapping or otherwise striking his partner. An abuser may feel entitled to have sex and pressure or force his partner to have sexual relations.
Financial or economic abuse
This may be where a partner stops or limits their partner having access to family finances, doesn’t allow their partner to earn money, or takes their money away from them.
Harassment and stalking
An abuser may demand to know where his partner is at all times and take action to monitor their movements either through questioning or more sophisticated tracking technology or by using social media. They may turn up at places they know their partner is going to be. This activity may continue after the relationship has ended, especially if the abuser is not happy the relationship has ended.
A relationship rarely starts off as abusive, however, the abuser may slowly use abusive behaviours to exert control over the victim. Some signs might be:
- Your partner swears and shouts at you. Your partner makes fun of you or insults you.
- Your partner criticises you and makes you doubt yourself. You might start believing that you’re unattractive, or lucky to have a partner at all.
- You feel anxious and stressed in your partner’s presence. You worry about your partner’s reaction to things and feel like you’re ‘walking on egg shells’
- You have been physically injured by your partner
- Your partner gets jealous and doesn’t like you doing things on your own or with others
- Your partner gets angry often and you’re worried about your safety when he does
Aside from any physical injuries, domestic abuse can have a significant impact on your emotional wellbeing, affecting all aspects of your life including your relationships with other people and if you have children it may impact on your children’s wellbeing.
Everyone reacts differently but some of the effects of domestic abuse include:
- Fear and/or anxiety
- Low mood or depression
- Low self-esteem or a lack of confidence
- Denial or minimisation of the abuse
- Loneliness or isolation
- Feelings of guilt or self-blame
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Feelings of anger
- Trouble sleeping
It’s important to remember that all of these reactions are normal and this is not your fault — only your abuser is responsible for their behaviour.
We offer the following Domestic Abuse Help & Support:
One to one support
One to one support forms the heart of services provided in Stepping Stones. Every woman accessing the organisation will be allocated a Women’s Support Practitioner who will be your main point of contact in the organisation. Support will be tailored to your needs and circumstances. Together with you we will
- Assess your needs, strengths and goals and agree with you how we can support you to work towards them
- Provide emotional support, practical advice, guidance and advocacy
- Liaise with other members of the team, making sure you’re linked up to the right Stepping Stones services for you
- Make sure you’re in contact with the right specialists outside of our organisation and that you feel your voice is heard
We provide one to one counselling for a small number of clients who require intensive support to understand, address and move on from trauma. The counselling provided is bespoke per client, and support periods are flexible, though you will usually be offered a period of 12 weeks.
Our counsellors work with us as volunteers, often undertaking placements with us whilst completing their training, most typically master’s degrees.
Our counselling forms part of a wider service offer, with counselling often accessed after attendance at one of our group programmes, for example Onyx or Understanding Anger. If you just want counselling on its own we would recommend that you contact your GP in the first instance as we encourage our clients to make use of counselling alongside our other services.
Onyx – Beyond Trauma Group Programme
Beyond Trauma is a structured group programme where women who have experienced domestic abuse or other trauma can explore and make sense of their experiences and increase their control over their own lives.
The 11-week programme has three primary focus areas:
- Understanding the dynamics of violence, abuse and trauma
- Understanding the impact of trauma on women’s lives
- Learning how to live with and to heal from trauma
Beyond Trauma promotes a strength-based approach that seeks to empower women and increase their sense of self.
Understanding Anger Group Programme
Research shows that many women have spent years focusing their anger inwards or outwards. These established patterns can result in damaging and unpleasant consequences for women, their families and communities.
Understanding Anger is a 10 week programme purposely written for Stepping Stones’ clients which explains and explores anger and violence in different areas of your life. It focuses on strengths and how women can express their emotions and make positive changes to their lives.
Topics covered include:
- What is anger
- How do we identify our feelings
- How can we manage our emotions
- Managing conflict
The Freedom Programme is an 11 week rolling group programme delivered throughout the year from our Luton town centre office. This means you can join at any point in the programme once you’ve had an initial assessment with one of our practitioners. It can also be delivered on a one to one basis if the timing/format of the group makes it difficult for clients to attend.
The Freedom Programme examines the impact of attitudes and beliefs on the actions of perpetrators and the responses of victims and survivors. It aims to help women make sense of and understand what has happened to them and to have an awareness of the warning signs/ tactics of the perpetrator. The Freedom Programme also describes in detail how children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and very importantly how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed.
The programme is suitable for women that acknowledge they are in an abusive relationship, as well as those woman who want to think about their relationship.
Freedom Forever – subject to sufficient demand
Freedom Forever is the follow up to the Freedom Programme and runs for 6 weeks. This course enables women to receive further advice and support in a group setting around issues such as managing child contact, coping with perpetrators who manipulate agencies to abuse women further. It also provides information on coercive control, laws and legalities with the aim of helping women retain their Freedom Forever.
Shine is group programme but it can also be run on an individual basis. It is delivered over 9 sessions. Shine is designed to help every woman develop understanding of her own personal worth, strength and purpose and realise the potential within her to fulfil her desires. The programme enables women to identify themselves as valuable, builds confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, encourages women to develop respect and boundaries in their relationships, identify personal desires and strengths to motivate them.