Pause is a national charity that works with women who have had more than one child removed from their care. Our model is trauma-informed, which means we look at the person in their own context, including their background and past experiences. We think about things they might have experienced in their lives, how this will have shaped the person they are now, and the impact this will have had on their parenting.
National research shows that 52% of women who have had a child removed from their care experienced physical abuse themselves as children, with similar numbers also experiencing sexual or emotional abuse (Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, 2018). This is true for the majority of women we work with at Pause, many of whom will continue to experience violence and abuse in their adult lives, much of this within the context of relationships.
Pause offers 18 months of voluntary support to women, at a time when they have no children in their care. This gives them the chance to focus on themselves, to reflect on their lives, tackle destructive patterns of behaviour, and to develop new skills and responses that can help them create a more positive future.
The support we provide is within the context of an intensive and trusting relationship with a dedicated practitioner, where there are clear professional boundaries. This relationship is the key ingredient; you might say, the relationship is the intervention, and often women’s first positive, constructive relationship with a professional.
Many of the women we work with have experienced or are currently experiencing domestic abuse. Some women we meet might not understand that the relationships they are in are abusive, as there is so much more to domestic abuse than overt physical violence. There is emotional, financial and sexual abuse, as well as coercive control; all of which might be harder to recognise but can have equally devastating consequences.
If a relationship is characterised by violence or coercive control, Pause Practitioners talk to women to look at how they might like things to be different and what – if any – changes they are ready to make. We then support them to make these changes at a pace that they feel comfortable with.
We recognise each woman with whom we work as an individual, rather than defining them by the issues and challenges they face. Our trauma-informed model and non-judgemental approach, enables us to work with someone who may have committed violence in the past, in the same way as we would work with someone who has been a victim of violence. Our approach is restorative; we aim to separate the behaviour from the person, and to see people as more than the sum of their actions. That is not to say that we ignore or overlook violent behaviours. We take a high challenge and high support approach, which allows the practitioner and woman to build mutual trust and to have difficult conversations in a safe way.
At Pause, our relationship-based approach allows us to talk to women about behaviours we notice that concern us. On a wider scale, these difficult conversations help to challenge attitudes towards violence within South Yorkshire. In this way, the Pause model supports the Public Health approach to violence, used by the Violence Reduction Unit. Being able to look at the causes of the causes, and provide a safe space with a trusted professional in which people can reflect on their experiences of violence, supports women to take action to change.
For more information on Pause Rotherham please email Pause@rotherham.gov.uk