COVID-19

We know that COVID-19 is having a serious impact on the lives of women and children. The outreach service is currently providing telephone and email support to women experiencing abuse at home. You can call 08454 103123 for telephone support and advice. If it is not suitable or safe to call, you can email on sunflower@wa-support.co.uk. We will respond within 2-3 working days. Please leave safe contact details and times for us to get back to you.

What is freedom programme?

Freedom Programme is a domestic violence programme which was created by Pat Craven who holds the copyright (all rights reserved) and evolved from her work with perpetrators of domestic violence. We provide information, not therapy. Click here to read the mission statement

The Programme was primarily designed for women as victims of domestic violence, since research shows that in the vast majority of cases of serious abuse are male on female.

The Freedom Programme examines the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors. The aim is to help them to make sense of and understand what has happened to them, instead of the whole experience just feeling like a horrible mess. The Freedom Programme also describes in detail how children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and very importantly how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed.

The programme takes place on Zoom, usually lasts for 12 weeks and is FREE.

We offer sessions on Wednesdays 10-11:30am or Thursdays 6:30-8pm

Contact Peterborough Women’s Aid via email on referrals@wa-support.co.uk to find out how you can join!

Lady A

Why did you want to take part in Freedom Programme?

I wanted to take part in the freedom programme to try and make sense of what I had been going through in my relationship. I wanted some sort of confirmation that I wasn’t mad and the things going on were wrong. I wanted to meet other women who had similar experiences in a safe space with no judgement. I joined because I wanted to gain the knowledge to enable me to move on and make better decisions in the future.

 

What did you gain from attending?

I gained new friends, knowledge and strength. Being able to talk about the abuse so openly and have the reassurance that others understood gave me strength. I was able to feel less guilty about leaving my relationship as I became more aware that I had been and still was in some respects, experiencing domestic abuse and it wasn’t normal.

 

How have you found it being online?

Initially the zoom calls were a little daunting but we quickly became friends and were able to relate to everyone’s stories. In fact I can be quite shy so having the option to type answers into the chat section and not speak made it easier for me.

 

How did it make you feel taking part?

Taking part I felt lots of emotions and some sessions would trigger me more than others. We would have serious times and times when we would giggle and laugh. It was a comforting feeling to be part of something and I was grateful for the opportunity to do the course alongside some really amazing women.

 

How would you describe your facilitators?

Leonie and Terri were fantastic, so caring and supportive. They understood our individual experiences and would also offer help and support outside of the programme. They created a safe space for us all and are a massive part of all of our journeys. 

 

What you would say to anyone thinking of joining?

I would say if anyone is considering joining the programme you definitely should. It’s eye opening in many ways and you will go through lots of different emotions. It will help you to understand your situation better and how you can start to move forward, you will make friends and have support from the group. It’s a lifeline.

Lady B

Why did you want to take part in the freedom programme?

I wanted to understand the nature behind my abuse, so that I could unpack the trauma which I had experienced throughout my abusive relationship. I also wanted to connect with other survivors and feel a sense of camaraderie with women who could understand the dark place which abuse imprisons you in.

What did you gain from taking part in the freedom programme?

I’ve gained the knowledge and awareness of what type of abusers there are, their motives, where their beliefs originate and ultimately, the acceptance and understanding that the abuse I suffered with was not, in any way, my fault. This, in itself, has been lifesaving and a real moment of empowerment for my healing journey.

How have you found it being online?

I actually preferred the program being online as it meant that I could participate from a safe physical space and also, take care of my baby and toddler, as and when I needed. I really enjoyed the flexibility of using Zoom and participating via microphone or chat.

How did it make you feel taking part?

I felt extremely empowered, validated and genuinely cared for by both Leonie, Terri and the strong women in our group.  I looked forward to attending sessions every week; I’d even go so far as to say it was the highlight of my week! The feeling of mutual understanding, respect and safety was so important for me.

How would you describe your facilitators?

Leonie and Terri were not only extremely knowledgeable and well-informed around the subject of abuse but they went the extra mile in making sure that every person was cared for and safe. We also shared a few laughs along the way which definitely helped lighten the mood amidst dealing with heavy topics. Leonie was fantastic in providing me with support prior to my hearing and regularly checked in to make sure I was doing okay which gave me extra reassurance. I felt like I had a mentor but also, a friend.

What would you say to anyone thinking of signing up to the FP?

Please don’t hesitate to arm yourself with knowledge that will only help to raise your awareness around the importance of recognising abusive patterns. You will walk away stronger, empowered and connected to your inner warrior queen. 

Lady C

Why did you want to take part in the freedom programme?

I wanted to take part in the Freedom programme to help process what had happened to me however it turned out to be so much more.

What did you gain from taking part in the freedom programme?

I have learnt about the warning signs I missed, the behaviours I made excuses for and most importantly I have been educated to protect myself in the future.

How have you found it being online?

It has really helped being online as it has given me the flexibility to attend without having to travel a long way.

How did it make you feel taking part?

It has made me feel empowerment as a whole. At times I have felt shock and sadness in the education that I was not a victim of one act of violence but years of control. The end result is I feel educated and liberated.

How would you describe your facilitators?

The facilitators are kind, caring and understanding. They check in with you during the sessions and between them and are such a support. I could not thank them enough.

What would you say to anyone thinking of signing up to the FP?

Do it, you will learn so much and it will help you process what you have been through and understand there was nothing you could have done.

LiveChat

Lady D

Why did you want to take part in the freedom programme?

I’ve had three abusive relationships. After the third abusive relationship, which was the most confusing as it was more manipulation and emotional abuse hidden in a cycle of love bombing, I began to truly believe it was me who was the problem. I felt  so foolish and ashamed of  the consequences from the choices I’ve made regarding men. I wanted to better understand why this was happening to me and hoped it would make me better placed to recognise the signs of abuse moving forward.

 

What did you gain from taking part in the freedom programme?

Taking part in the programme has felt like an awakening to me. It has taught me all the things I intuitively knew  felt wrong but had been told otherwise through conditioned behaviour from parents, what others have told me and societal messages imposed on us through the media. I had it reaffirmed the expectations that had been placed on me as a woman to endure life, be everything to everyone else, keep everything ok.. if it’s not ok, then it’s my fault and where all these beliefs originated; unpicking all these limiting beliefs has been liberating. The main part of the course is exploring all the different types of abusers and the tactics they use, then comparing them to  how a healthy person should respond. This has helped me to recognise the red flags I’ve spent my whole life ignoring and also gain insight into the green flags I’m now consciously looking for!

 

How have you found it being online?

I was initially apprehensive about how it would work online, I wondered if it would interfere with forming a connection and being able to fully engage with the programme. It actually worked really well though, I felt like I could speak up and formed a bond with the other women on the programme through our shared experiences. Another positive to it being online, is that some parts of the course were very heavy and triggering. It meant I could have a cry, without drawing attention to myself.

 

How did it make you feel taking part?

Taking part in the programme is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve known about the programme for quite some time, but have resisted it. I guess in part I never wanted to own the fact I’ve been a victim, mainly due to the shame and self-blame I had attached to it. Now I wish I had done it a lot sooner, having this knowledge has felt like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders- shame, guilt, self-blame are all heavy emotions to carry around. Having a deeper understanding of what I’ve been through has allowed me to feel more compassionate towards myself. The course has been both very empowering and healing.

 

How would you describe your facilitators?

Terri and Leonie have been the absolute best cheerleaders ever. They are so well informed and delivered the programme in a relaxed way that was easy to follow and engaging. Terri has been my support worker, on days I’ve had in the past where I’ve been tearing myself down for what I felt I allowed to happen,  she was always so kind in building me up and being the compassionate voice I needed in those difficult moments.

 

What would you say to anyone thinking of signing up to the FP?

I literally tell everyone and anyone who will listen to me about the programme! I have recommended it to so many women already. I strongly believe the programme should be delivered in schools, I would love for my teenage daughter to be able to do it. Prevention of abuse is key by informing our young people what is healthy and what is not, I think it would inspire them to be better and encourage healthier relationships all round