Positive Relationships

We encourage people to build positive and healthy relationships and reduce domestic abuse. We can work with you of you are, or have been in a relationship where you:

  • want to work on building healthy relationships
  • feel afraid of a partner
  • are being verbally abused
  • feel cut off from family and friends
  • are being constantly criticised
  • are being physically abused
  • recognise your behaviour as being controlling or abusive
  • or anything else that feels uncomfortable or intimidating.

We can provide links to long-term behaviour change programmes too.

Through our social prescribing approach, our team of Community Connectors provide opportunities for people to explore informal connections and networks of interest or benefit to them.

The sessions have given me the opportunity to realise that I do have options and choice in my relationship. Its good to be reminded that I am important and an individual, not just a partner or a Mum, a whole person.

Natalie’s Story

He said he hated conflict. I loved laughing and putting the radio on and dancing around. I thought he was the perfect person for me – little did I know that would soon come to an end.

Laughter turned to interrogation, shouting, smashing things, and name calling. He would loom over me, his eyes reflecting sheer venom. I couldn’t breathe properly or focus, my heart would race so fast, yet the questions kept coming. This was to become my normality. Weeks spiralled into months, and then years.

There wasn’t any aspect of me he didn’t criticise. He called me abusive and offensive names. He controlled what time I went to bed. If my hair should be up or down. Then there was the 60-second rule to answer my phone – which couldn’t be ignored. I was existing in a constant state of anxiety, but he kept telling me he did these things because he loved me so much.

“If you married me things would be better”, he’d say. Or “if you got a tattoo, I would feel secure”. So I married him and even allowed him to brand me. It still wasn’t enough to stop his explosive temper, or the emotional, verbal and financial abuse.

Was this to be the rest of my life? I needed to speak to someone, to find out my options. But I was so confused. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. To share how he treated me felt disloyal.

Then I approached the TPA and started work with a Positive Relationships Key Worker. After three years of silence, it was the first time I had told anyone about what was happening to me.

After another assault on our wedding anniversary, my phone rang and a soft voice asked if it was safe to talk. I rambled for an hour and a half and received only encouragement and support in return. There was no judgement. My Key Worker just wanted to hear what I had to say and to know I was safe. And by using my real name, she reminded me I was a person with an identity.

She also gave me options. Helplines I could ring at any time to talk about how I was feeling and safety planning. I was offered access to emergency temporary accommodation. She even liaised with housing on my behalf to establish the process for submitting an application from a different address and found I didn’t have to give my current address – which removed a massive barrier to me leaving. Most importantly she maintained regular contact and updated me on anything immediately.

At no point did my Key Worker tell me I had to leave. I had to make that choice. And so I did. Despite a mixture of fear and apprehension, there was also relief. I did wonder how I was going to manage without him – until I realised that living with him had already taken incredible strength.

I left. The manipulative and abusive messages started instantly, but I decided to take control. I stopped answering his calls, texts and e-mails. Then, one Sunday morning, I reached the biggest crossroads of my life. He told me he was coming to find me. With the messages still coming, I was a nervous wreck. I hadn’t slept or eaten properly since leaving. And I knew this wasn’t going to stop. So I had two choices: either return accepted what consequences he deemed appropriate or make a complaint to the police and seek some form of protection.

When I walked into the police station, I was so apprehensive I was physically shaking. The police listened to my concerns with empathy, they explained the procedures available to provide me with protection. They kept reassuring me this wasn’t my fault, as my Key Worker had been doing. They asked if I would support a prosecution – to which I agreed – and they offered me ‘special measures’ to make sure that if I had to go to court I didn’t have to see him. They also put a ‘marker’ on the property I was staying at, so if I called 999 the response would be immediate.

After that, he was arrested and bailed, yet they also seized his phone and the threats stopped immediately. At last silence fell and I no longer had to endure his vile comments or threats.

It didn’t stop me feeling guilty, but with the encouragement of my Key Worker I began the process of re-building my life. I was a shell of the person I have become today. She readily and selflessly shared the burden of what I endured.

Her support was phenomenal and holistic, it covered every aspect of my life, from my emotional well-being to practical matters such as housing, and I am now on the brink of being re-housed. She also sourced some volunteering opportunities for me and made a referral for counselling. In addition, she celebrated my achievements, with a big smile that reflected genuine pleasure.

My Key Worker introduced me to the ‘Freedom Programme’ and this gave me the confirmation and affirmation that I was living with the ‘Dominator’.  He was a liar, bully, jailer, headworker, and he would have won an Oscar for playing ‘king of the castle’. This man didn’t want a healthy balanced relationship. He wanted to exert control for his sole gratification and needs.

I won’t deny, I still have a mountain to climb with a forthcoming court case. And it does feel scary. But I lived that fear every day, when he was judge, jury and executioner. Now, I am living my life to the fullest. I do all the things I wasn’t allowed to and I am going from strength to strength each and every day.

Most importantly, I realised I deserved to live a life without abuse. I didn’t need him, he needed me. Now it’s light and bright and the music plays.

Thank you TPA, your service is outstanding.

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