Confidence Course for Abuse Victims

Hundreds of Devon women are being taught how they can stop themselves becoming victims of domestic violence again.

800 have gone through the Pattern Changing course in the past ten years and 200 a year are now being referred - normally by their GP, social services or some other support service.

The 14 week course focusses on how the victim can break the cycle of abuse and build their self-confidence. Topics cover why it is so hard to leave, assertiveness skills and the feelings of guilt many feel during an abusive relationship.

This former victim - who does not wish to be identified - has told Heart it is not about making them feel it was their fault: "we were easy to prey upon because of low self-esteem - believeing that you didn't deserve any better and you were grateful for what you got. What the Pattern Changing course has done is it has allowed you to feel that you deserved better."

She continued: "even though it will always be a part of who you are, it is behind us now and we have survived it"

Claire Brown is one of the course's managers: "when women come out of an abusive relationship they've been emotionally abused. If your self-esteem and self-confidence is raised you are less likely to be attractive to someone who wants to control you."

The following charities and organisations are involved in the Pattern Changing course:

ADVA (Against Domestic Violence and Abuse) - 0808 2000 247 (national 24 hour helpline)

Stop Abuse for Everyone - 0800 328 3070 (24 hour helpline)

Domestic Violence and Abuse Services (South and West Devon)

North Devon Womens' Aid - 01271 370079