For my primary research I decided to contact different organisations, some local and some national, that deal with domestic abuse and violence to see if they would be willing to either: give me information about the statistics and facts of domestic violence towards women or allow me to interview workers there for this information. I thought about asking wether they knew any survivors of domestic abuse who would agree to be interviewed however I felt that this was too intrusive as it is a delicate subject.
Before contacting these organisations, either by phone or email, I decided to do some secondary research on what the organisation was and what they did. The first one I chose is local, it is the Wish Centre in Blackburn with Darwen. They are located on King’s Road in Blackburn and work with victims of domestic abuse as well as other things. They offer councelling sessions, support groups and general talks to students and children about abuse and other situations.
The second organisation I contacted was Changing Lives a charity organisation that supports families in different situations, such as dealing with domestic abuse, addiction and recovery and homelessness. I originally contacted Changing Lives via email, however when they did not respond within two weeks I rang the main telephone number which is on their website and was told that they would get back to me soon. Unfortunately I did not receive a phone call or email back, even after sending two more emails.
My next step was contacting Blackburn College’s safeguarding team to see if they had any information to give me, or if they could recommend other organisations I could contact. I contacted the team by email and recieved a reply which directed me to the two organisations I had already looked at, the WISH centre and changing lives.
On Thursday 27th April I contacted the WISH centre again via telephone as my other attemps were either unanswered or they hadn’t got back to me when they said they would, which is understandable as they are busy. I spoke to the receptionist who put me through to one of the managers, name and she arranged for me to go to one of the talks they give on Tuesday 2nd May. Before or after the talk I have arranged to speak to Julie, one of the workers there and will record our conversation if she allows it. I will asking her questions about the statistics and facts of domestic abuse towards women, how women reach out to them and other things the organisation offers.
WISH centre meeting – Tuesday 2nd May:
I went to the Wish Centre, located on King Street, Blackburn and met with Julie just before the 10am talk started. Julie told me that the talks were usually group sessions, with women who had or were in an abusive relationship and that they were working through a program called The Freedom Program. The talk I sat in on was the second of numerous sessions the program does, it focused on the different types of abuse: financial, sexual, physical and emotional and the aim was to let the women speak freely about their situations and help them recognise the signs of abuse and help them realise that how they were treated is wrong.
After listing and discussing examples of the different types of abuse Julie moved on to analysing two different types of people: the bully and the friend. An abuser is categorised as the bully, because they often use bulling as a form of emotional abuse. Lots of words associated with emotional abuse were written down for ‘the bully’ including sulking, blackmail and lying. Julie spoke about how these things are used by the abuser to manipulate their partner and said that recognising their (the abusers) techniques would help the girls to either help themselves out of a similar situation, if they were to be in it again, or to help friends in this situation. A nice man / woman is categorised as the friend because of how they should be with their partner, friendly and loving. Julie spoke with the women about what a good partner should be like and some of the words written down for ‘the friend’ were: respectful, appreciative, complimenting, caring and listening. It was good to see that the women recognised what a good partner was like and that they deserved this type of partner as it showed their resilience.
Although domestic abuse is a delicate and dark subject the atmosphere at the talk was positive and the women were supportive of each other. It seemed like they felt comfortable with Julie and each other as they laughed and joked a lot. This was nice to see as it showed me that despite the situations these women had been through they were still able to see a positive side to life and begin the steps to recover. A lot of the women shared their experiences, however as the group is confidential I will not write about that. Julie has invited me to their fourth talk (not the third as she is on holiday) where I will be able to speak to her at length after the session and will also have the opportunity to anonymously interview some of the women, who have agreed to speak to me about their experiences.
WISH centre meeting – Tuesday 16th May:
The second talk I attended was done by Lauren as Julie is still away. Lauren’s session, which was the third in the program (the sessions do not go in order of the number) was mainly about how children are effected when one parent is abusive towards the other. The discussion started with Lauren asking the women what they thought their children needed, they said things like:
- stability (a home)
- reliable parent
Lauren noticed that none of the women had mentioned anything materialistic, such as toys, which started a discussion about how parents in an abusive situation can use materialistic items (toys, a magazine, a game etc) as a way of apologising, manipulating or ‘caring’ for their child. Either parent (abuser or not) may buy their child gifts to apologise for an argument or fight that they witnessed. An abusive parent may buy their child a gift to stop them from saying anything, or to make the child like them more and either parent may give the child materialistic items in place of basic needs (attention etc) and feel like this is sufficient care. The women then spoke about their own experiences with their children, and how their abusive partners treated their children compared to them. It was interesting to learn that a lot of the women had the courage to leave their partners once they (partner) had done something that effected the child directly as it showed that no matter how emotionally manipulated the women had been they still cared more about their children than anything else.
Lauren then moved the discussion on to what the women thought they needed and deserved in a good relationship, the women said things like:
- room to grow
- personal space
She then asked the women what she thought an abusive person wanted / needed, some of the things said were:
- phone access (checking up on you, control)
- sex (unwanted sex is part of the abuse)
- money (control)
These things all lead to a lack of indepence, which all the women agreed that they had little or none of during the relationship.
The group then watched BBC Three’s Murdered By My Boyfriend (2014) which I had analysed earlier in the project as secondary research. I decided to take notes to see if I could go back to my analysis and include more.
Watching the film with women who had been in similar situations was hard – hitting as it brought back the reality of the situation and made me feel grateful to the WISH centre and other organisations like it for helping women (and men) in abusive relationships.
Afterwards, 5 of the women stayed behind to participate in an anonymous group interview, which I recovered on my phone. I also interviewed each woman individually however most answers lead to a group discussion as most of the women could relate to the others situations. I asked each of the women about their experiences with domestic abuse and asked them how they felt then, how they felt now and what they are moving forward to. Knowing how these women felt is important because in my short film, the characters feelings and emotions are a big part of it and I wanted to see if it was an accurate portrayal. Originally I was going to show my short film to the women and ask for feedback, however I felt that it wasn’t a good time as they had just watched a film about domestic abuse.
I have uploaded the interview recordings to Google Drive and will include them here:
Interview Rec. 1 – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5_yzPkvG0VoWVRnbHB5UXlLc1k
Interview Rec. 2 – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5_yzPkvG0VoTk1hNGxhQWx1Ylk
Interview Rec. 3 – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5_yzPkvG0VoV2NkVHhwR0o0cTA
Interview Rec. 4 – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5_yzPkvG0VoRkpISWhZYnJyV0E
Interview Rec. 5 – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5_yzPkvG0VoZWw2ZGYtcEFKX3M
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-  Safeguarding Team. Available: http://www.blackburn.ac.uk/about-us/welcome/safeguarding/. Last accessed 20th Mar 2017.