The Haven Wolverhampton recognises that many women who have experienced domestic violence have additional support needs.
It is thought that many women who use substances (alcohol and/or drugs) do so as a response to and a way of dealing with abuse. Some note that using such substances help to ‘numb the pain of physical beatings’ or ‘take (them) to another place’.
Figures from Women’s Aid suggest that women experiencing domestic violence are up to fifteen times more likely to misuse alcohol and nine times more likely to misuse other drugs than women generally. Some women are introduced to substances by their abusive partners as a way of increasing control and dependency over them. Women with problematic substance use who also experience domestic violence are particularly likely to feel isolated and stigmatised.
The Haven Wolverhampton provides support in the form of a Family Support Worker – Drug and Alcohol Lead who is able to work with women with drug and/or alcohol misuse issues who are willing to engage in a recognised programme of support. The Haven Wolverhampton also works with external support agencies including Aquarius and The Bridge to provide additional support.
One of the most devastating life events that can impact on a woman's mental health is the experience of violence and abuse. As a result those experiencing domestic violence can suffer from stress, depression and/or anxiety leading to a range of emotional and psychiatric problems.
More than 50% of female users of mental health services are identified as having experienced domestic violence, however questions about violence and abuse are not asked about or detected by mental health or other practitioners.
The Haven Wolverhampton provides support to women who suffer mild / short term mental health issues within our dedicated specialist refuge. This particular refuge is the first and only purpose built refuge which aims to address the needs of women suffering ill mental health as a result of domestic violence as well as addressing the additional support needs of their children. The Haven Wolverhampton recognises the need to adopt sensitive exploration of abusive experiences and acknowledging the serious consequences of these on women's mental health which is fundamental to the delivery of appropriate care. If it is identified that The Haven Wolverhampton cannot meet the needs of these women we will endeavour to provide support to access more appropriate services.
Research has shown that women offenders are far more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual violence than the general female population. Though most women offenders do not pose a threat to society, most have multiple complex needs and many are caught in a damaging cycle of abuse, victimisation, and offending. The majority are also mothers. In 2009 the Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Task Force carried out a study which found that between 50% and 80% of women in prison have experienced domestic and/or sexual abuse. The research also indicated that many women continue to experience violence from partners and ex-partners whilst serving their sentence.
The Haven Wolverhampton has a number of units within one of its refuge dedicated to supporting female offenders. The Haven Wolverhampton also works alongside women’s charity Platform 51 to deliver an extensive programme of support for female offenders which focuses on addressing issues of mental health, domestic violence and abuse as well as developing childcare, literacy and numeracy and employability skills and working to increase women’s self-esteem.
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