Domestic violence perpetrators report themselves to hotline

Forty six perpetrators of domestic violence in Cheshire have reported themselves to a helpline in the first 10 days of a campaign being launched.

Cheshire Without Abuse (known as My CWA) is unusual in that it works to tackle perpetrator behaviour as well as helping the victims and children of violent homes.

With reports of domestic violence predicted to soar during the Covid-19 lockdown the charity decided to target the people responsible and say they’ve been ‘inundated’ with calls from men and women.

The scheme is one of several initiatives that have been launched by Crewe-based My CWA after they received emergency funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation as part of Steve Morgan’s commitment of £1million a week to help charities mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

The charity’s chief executive Saskia Lightburn-Ritchie said: “All the media coverage during Covid-19 has focused on helping the victims of domestic violence and that’s quite right. However, in a lockdown situation, it may be almost impossible to speak out or leave a violent situation.

“We’ve taken a different approach and have targeted our first social media campaign at the perpetrators. We’re not judgemental. If they’re willing to face up to their actions we’ll help them.

“In the first 10 days we had 46 perpetrators reporting themselves to us. People are recognising that their behaviour is getting out of hand and they’re not going to be able to change it on their own.”

Most of the 46  perpetrators are men but it also includes a number of women.

Saskia said any safeguarding issues would be prioritised and forwarded on to the authorities for immediate action but most perpetrators are entering a ‘behaviour change intervention’ programme with group sessions taking place on Zoom.

In addition to the work with the perpetrators the charity has 23 refuge spaces across 12 properties.

The CEO said: “In a normal year we’ll work with 1,200 adults and children and 200 male and female perpetrators. However there’s nothing normal about the current situation so we’ve had to adapt our services.

“Instead of face-to-face activity we’ve embraced technology and continued running most of our sessions via Zoom.

“We’re currently working with 300 families and 99 children. In addition to our normal work we’re also going out delivering food and care parcels to those people most in need. That wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation. 

“In a normal week we would get between 10-20 referrals but since Covid-19 we’re getting more than 50, including 26 on one bank holiday weekend. Normally one person would man the helpline but we’ve been able to increase that to four in order to deal with the increase in calls.

“Because of the lockdown we’re losing around £25,000 a month. I applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation on the Sunday evening and got the money the following day. It was a massive relief.”

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “There’s been a big surge in domestic violence during Covid-19 and Cheshire Without Abuse does a fantastic job of supporting the victims and their children. It also works with perpetrators in order to get them to change their behaviour and, ultimately, help the victim.”

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