‘Ask Me’ The change that lasts scheme

We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer (Women’s Aid, 2023)

The ‘Ask Me’ training is a free domestic abuse awareness training programme that is delivered in community spaces for all community members. The aim of the training is to deliver a quality programme that allows community members to come together and create rich discussion, group participation and activities based on the foundations that underpin domestic abuse and why it is important to understand these.

Survivors of domestic abuse will often first confide in friends, family, people they know and trust who are a part of their community. A lack of understanding and confidence in how to respond to a survivor can often lead to a “gate closing” response. This often leaves survivors feeling judged and isolated or silenced by the people around them. Survivors have expressed that they fear speaking out in the first place, because of fears of how the community may respond.

“We know that communities are often the first to know about abuse, and that they can act as gate openers or gate closers in terms of help seeking.” (Finding the Costs of Freedom report, 2014)

Woman’s Aid wanted to change this and introduced ‘The change that lasts scheme’ through training sessions. The training itself looks at the multifaceted nature of domestic abuse and the many different behaviours that it entails. We look at the community response and the gendered nature of domestic abuse and look to challenge some of the myths and stereotypical beliefs that underpin domestic abuse.

The ‘Ask Me’ training aims to help raise awareness and support individuals to be confident in creating opportunities to discuss domestic abuse within the communities that we live in. Being able to give the right response the first time can help a survivor feel supported and heard. This can help them to seek support from the services that are available that they may not have known about.

“My training on the Ask me course was exceptional. I was so nervous at first but the minute the course started the facilitators made us all feel at ease and we all started to open up. Throughout the full day I felt relaxed and was able to speak about my direct experiences without being judged. I learnt some amazing tools and now I’ve completed the course and I’m looking forward to being an ambassador and helping anyone that I can get the help they deserve.” (Community Ambassador, May 2023)

My Sisters Place in Middlesbrough deliver the training on behalf of Womans Aid. The Ask Me scheme is available to anyone 18 or over who lives in England. and it can be delivered face to face or online and can be delivered in both community and work/professional settings and can be tailored to suit. The training encompasses a group setting whereby members of the community can come together and play a role in ending domestic abuse.

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