DOTS – Dog’s on the streets.



DOTS is a volunteer run, not-for-profit charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the UK’s homeless community.  At MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference), my fellow representatives and I often hear cases of homeless women who are rough sleeping and are experiencing domestic abuse.  They often have  dogs with them and whilst it seems to these women that everyone and everything has let them down, they are kept going by their canine friends, who they will often go hungry for to make sure they are fed and well.  This organisation must surely be a godsend to them and all homeless people who often have no one else, apart from their dog, to love and trust.

Please share the link below and spread the word.

‘What makes a Murderer’?

What makes a Murderer?

I recently read an article in the ‘Mail Online’ titled ‘How to spot a serial killer – Five key traits’. The traits were:

  • A power junkie
  • A manipulator
  • An egotistical bragger
  • A superficial charmer
  • An average Joe

It struck me that these traits are the same traits often seen in abusive men.  The Freedom Programme covers all of these, albeit named slightly differently, their meaning is the same.  I have often wondered how many men who are abusive to their partners, go on to be serial killers?  Yes, I know it is not particularly a light-hearted thing to think about but I guess that is just me!  When you do the job I do, there is a temptation to look at every man and wonder if he is a perpetrator.  Though I honestly do try to resist that temptation!
When I was researching this topic I came across hundreds of articles on the internet which highlighted the links between Domestic Abuse and Animal cruelty.  Of course, those of  you who work in the field know that this is accurate and there is a very strong link with these two things.  But I was surprised at how very little there was on the links between Domestic Abuse and Serial killers.  Is it just part of ‘the big cover up’? I wondered.  By that, I mean the way in which the words Domestic Abuse/Violence are still seen by many in the media to be ‘taboo’ words that you dare not say, never mind print!  How many times do we read the paper on the way to work, and see stories of women being killed in their homes sometimes followed by ‘police are looking for  woman’s partner as someone they are interested in speaking to’.  Those of us who do this work know instantly it is a Domestic Homicide.  But anyone else may not read between the lines as we do.
If we as a society broke down those taboo’s and actually said the words ‘Domestic Abuse’ more often, if our media outlets printed those words more often, then people would come to realise just how common Domestic Abuse is.  They may be more likely over time to report it if they see or hear it.  Women who are experiencing it may be more likely to report it.  And the corridors of power may be more likely to stop cutting the funding of valuable organisations that support women and perhaps more importantly, support men to change their behaviour and understand that what they are doing is wrong.  I see it at work every day, more so in last few months – organisations closing, having their funding cut, forcing the organisation to make staff redundant.  In my opinion this is because they simply do not know the scale of Domestic Abuse.  It is something that happens to other people.  Something that doesn’t happen in ‘our borough’!  But if we put more money and time into supporting men to change their behaviour and hold them accountable for their actions, we would be literally saving lives not to mention millions of tax payers money.   Take this example –
Milly Dowler murder: Levi Bellfield’s confession ‘could lead to others’
In 2000 I was working in a refuge as a refuge worker.  I was supporting a young woman who had fled her abusive partner and come into the refuge with her two small children.  Once or twice, I took her children into a busy city shopping centre away from the area of the refuge, so they could see their father.  He presented as a pleasant man.  Charming and friendly.  He missed his children and his partner so much.  Not that his pleasant demeanour ever fooled me.  For I knew different.  My client had confided in me and told me of all the unspeakable things he had done to her.  What has this got to do with the article link?, I hear you say.  The father was Levi Bellfield.
Imagine my horror when I saw his face on my television screen a few years later.  At the time of his original conviction, there was some mention of the fact that he had abused his former partner.  But only briefly and remember, I was looking out for this.  When we see pictures of this man now we instantly think of him as a serial killer.  We wonder, what made him do this?  Is he mad?.  Was he on drugs?.  The answer is much closer to home.  He was a perpetrator of Domestic Abuse and he was never held accountable for his actions then.  He committed these heinous crimes simply because he could!  He abused his former partner, simply because he could and no one told him otherwise!
What if someone had told him otherwise back in 2000?  I don’t need to expand on the answer to that, do I?
I make no apology if this article has shocked and/or upset anyone reading it.  Because as I have said before, if more people spoke about what is deemed to be taboo, women and girls would be much safer.


New Page – Useful Links.

I am developing a new page on my website called Useful Links.  I thought it would be a good idea to have somewhere where people can go to look for organisations that can help them/give them advice.  This is for survivors of domestic abuse and for professionals.  I hope to eventually have the links to resources and organisations across the UK and possibly beyond! but for now I am adding those that I have worked personally with over the years.  This page will evolve and grow as more are added.

If you would like me to add an organisations, albeit, voluntary or statutory, that you have had a good experience with – or perhaps you work for such a place and would like it to be added to the page – please get in touch with the details and I will be happy to oblige.

Let’s spread the word and share best practise…………………………………..

Click here to be redirected to the page.

 New page - Useful links.

Freedom Programme Cards

Mr Wrong/Mr Right cards.

These Mr Right/Mr Wrong cards are taken from The Freedom Programme and are great for giving out to women who are experiencing domestic abuse.  They are credit card sized and fit nicely in a purse or wallet.  They are also of a good size to hide!!  The cards list positive behaviours on one side and negative behaviours on the reverse side.  They are also very useful for agencies working with women experiencing domestic abuse – to give out as a reminder of the warning signs of  a domestically abusive person.

Freedom Programme Card

Freedom Programme Card


Domestic Abuse: App to track incidents.

Saw this article today when searching for my domestic abuse articles and think this is a great idea and one which women would welcome and use.  In my experience,  it is difficult for women to re live their experiences of abuse when reporting it to the police or trying to get an injunction, for example.  With this app they could record the incidents as they happen for the purposes of future disclosure and reporting.

When you are living with domestic abuse, it is very easy to ‘switch off’ and minimise the abuse.  This is perfectly natural and does not mean that, that woman is not being protective towards her children o is dismissing the abuse.  It is simply a coping mechanism as if women carried these thoughts and memories actively in our minds all the time, they would not be able to cope!  Having an app like this could be used at the very minimum for women to ‘store’ the information of past abuse and draw upon this information to remind them of what they have been through – in preparation of leaving an abusive relationship, and to measure how far they have come once they have left the relationship.

Hope we get this in the UK soon………..

You can also read this article on my ‘Online Articles’ page.

Good solicitors are hard to find………

Moss, Beachley & Mullem Solicitors.

I like to acknowledge good practise when I see it.  In the current climate of funding cuts which includes legal aid funding, it is very difficult for women to find a good family law solicitor that is committed to publicly funded work.  Well, I have found one!  I have been referring my clients to Moss, Beachley & Mullem, for some years now.  A firm based in the West of London, tucked away behind the busy Marylebone Road, they have been serving the community for over 40 years.  Whilst they do practise other areas of law, they specialise in Family Law and Housing Law.

Moss, Beachley & Mullem is not a big, corporate firm employing lots of high flying lawyers.  The current partners, Alan Mullem and Denise Lester offer a be-spoke service to women who are/have been experiencing domestic abuse.  They also offer free drop in clinics where women can go for advice and an emergency helpline number which runs from 6am – 4pm daily.  They can give women advice and support around applying for various civil options to help keep them safe, for example – Non-Molestation Injunctions, Prohibited Steps Orders, Occupation Orders and Child Arrangement Orders.  Wherever possible, they endeavour to get applications in to court on the same day when women are in immediate risk of further abuse.

I always like to attend the first solicitor’s appointment with my client’s whenever possible, and I work very closely with Moss, Beachley & Mullem.  I will usually already of completed a risk assessment and taken background/history of the relationship and the abuse from my client.  This can then be used (with the clients permission) to help form the affidavit needed when applying for civil orders.  This serves a very important purpose.  It means that the client does not have to repeat her ‘story’ in detail to the solicitor.  Research tells us that this is what women fear the most when reaching out for help.  They will be asked to tell numerous different agencies and organisations what has happened to them in the process of seeking help.  This is distressing, embarrassing and frustrating.  It can make leaving an abusive relationship much harder than it is already and trust me – it is hard!

So three cheers for this amazing firm of solicitors who I will look forward to continuing to work with now and in the future.

If you would like more information about Moss, Beachley & Mullem, their services, or their helpline number and advice clinics, please click on the links for their website and contact details.

Spring Freedom Programme………

Spring Freedom Programme….

We are half way through the Spring Freedom Programme which is running from February to May 2019.  I think this is one of the most culturally diverse programmes I have done.  Twelve women from different cultures, countries, age and physical ability.  We have women from The Lebanon, Poland, Hungary, Italy, America, England and Ireland.  All with one thing in common!  I am always fascinated and inspired by how the women who come to my programmes bond and forge new friendships with other women who they feel truly understand them.


They come to the first session, not knowing what to expect.  Some of them, having been referred by a professional, perhaps a social worker, don’t want to be there at all!  By session 3, they have visibly relaxed.  You can almost hear them thinking – “this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be”.  I’ve actually had a woman on this programme say that to me!

For others it is a lifeline.  They have been isolated and it is a revelation to them that they are not the only person to have experienced domestic abuse, therefore meaning it wasn’t their fault!!

I absolutely love facilitating this programme.  Professionals thank me ‘teaching’ the women about domestic abuse.  That makes me smile and I tell them – “I don’t teach them anything!  I don’t need to.  They have lived it.  I simply facilitate a structured space for them to make sense of what they have experienced with other women who have experienced it themselves.  I don’t do anything more than try to make it a safe, comfortable, friendly environment for them to come to, once a week for 3 months.

Why do some people not understand?  Why do they patronise these women by implying they need teaching??!  Hence the women come to that first session fearing they are going to be talked at and patronised.  What they find when they enter the room and are greeted by me is very different.

What the women don’t realise is that I am the one being taught!  I am a survivor of domestic abuse.  Something I am proud of.  If women ask me if I am a survivor, I tell them Yes.  It doesn’t compromise my professional relationship with them.  If anything it strengthens it.  I take part in my programmes.  I grow with the women.

How I wish there had been The Freedom Programme when I was going through it……….

PC gone mad? What do you think?

So I saw this article last week and it really made me think – Has the world gone PC mad?

Have I been conditioning my two adult daughters since childhood or has political correctness gone bonkers?  I asked some of my friends.  I also asked my daughters.  The general feeling was that you can read anything into anything if you really want to.  My daughters don’t consider that watching Disney films through their childhood, have influenced how they feel about, for example, domestic abuse.  To be honest, I have never watched a Disney film and seen the characters portrayed in the way this article suggests.  Have you?