BRAVE: Emotional Support for those affected by Domestic Abuse
An opportunity for primary care service users, the BRAVE project is all about Building Resilience and Valuing EmotionsIntroduction by BRAVE Ambassadors
What is BRAVE and who is it for?
At BRAVE, we provide therapeutic support for people of all genders across Berkshire who have experienced domestic abuse and who also experience emotional difficulties following this abuse. If you are registered with a GP in Berkshire and do not use a Community Mental Health Team’s services, BRAVE is available for you.
If you’re being supported by your local Community Mental Health Team, then please speak to your team about available support options (or visit the FAQs below). To get an idea of the support BRAVE offers, please see the Welcome to BRAVE video by clicking here.
Our group-based programme offers separate single-sex support groups for clients to learn new skills and ways of coping to help them break free from their past. BRAVE also works with partner organisations, such as Hestia, DASH, Berkshire Women’s Aid, and Respect, to help provide both practical and psychological support across Berkshire.
The BRAVE journey starts with an initial assessment that helps us understand your current situation, the difficulties you are experiencing, and how we can best support you to overcome them.
After your assessment, you may be invited to join a small group programme: the BRAVE (for women) or BRAVE Too (for men) 12 week programme. If the BRAVE group is not the right support for you, then we will be able to discuss alternative support options that may be helpful.
During group sessions, you’ll learn about alternative ways to cope with life’s difficulties, engage in group problem-solving, and get support from your peers. Previous members have found the groups safe, empowering, and confidence building. These groups are single sex, the membership stays the same for all 12 weeks, and you won’t be asked to share anything you’re not comfortable with.
We recognise that abuse is complex and can continue far beyond separation from the abuser. For that reason, we have created our BRAVE EMBRACE group, which is open to graduates of the BRAVE 12 week programme for a further 2 years. Together, we have created a community of people where they feel truly understood and valued.
To complement our BRAVE service, and in recognition that domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate, we are launching our BRAVE Too service: a 12 week programme which will provide a safe, supportive environment where men can engage in a therapeutic service tailored to their needs. In time, we would also like to create a BRAVE Too EMBRACE group.
Beyond the group programme, BRAVE offers individual review sessions to help you think about moving forward and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far. From the initial assessment to flourishing in the wider Berkshire community, BRAVE supports you at every point along the way.
BRAVE is commissioned by the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner with MoJ funding.
What we do at BRAVE
Emotional Health & Wellbeing
Group members have told us that the group has helped them to feel more empowered and confident, and has helped them learn coping skills for anxiety and other emotions.
Feelings of Safety
People have also told us they feel more confident about listening to themselves and trusting themselves – this helps them to feel safer and manage relationships.
Coping with Everyday Life
After attending the BRAVE programme, individuals have reported feeling more confident to manage challenging situations and focus on achieving important goals, whilst also looking after their own wellbeing.
After completing the BRAVE 12 week programme, graduates are invited to attend BRAVE EMBRACE for up to 2 years. This weekly group allows graduates to give and receive peer support from fellow BRAVE graduates.
Once you have attended the 12 week programme and completed the 2 year BRAVE EMBRACE group, you can become a BRAVE Ambassador to share your knowledge and inspire our community partners.
What People Love About BRAVE
Identifying and learning to cope with difficult emotions, covering many topics and practical skills
Meeting and learning from others in the group; having a shared understanding
Having a closed group creates a non-judgemental and supportive environment where members feel able to open up
The facilitators are approachable, trustworthy, understanding, friendly, and non-judgemental
This creates a space to raise any issues, and validate feelings through discussions with others
Learning to feel better about oneself, putting skills learnt into practice
We liaise with partner agencies to obtain referrals
We can also signpost to other sources of support
Referral to the BRAVE project
If you have experienced domestic abuse in the past and you would benefit from some support for how you are feeling, then please ask your support service to refer you. We accept referrals from a wide range of services across Berkshire, including:
- Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA)
- The Dash (Domestic Abuse Stops Here) Charity
- Slough Children’s Services Trust
- The Freedom Programme
Ask your support worker, social worker, or mental health professional to make a referral or contact BRAVE by emailing us at BRAVE@berkshire.nhs.uk to discuss whether the service could be helpful for you. You can also download the referral form by clicking the button above (see “What We Do at BRAVE”) and send it to the BRAVE email address.
If you are making a referral, please note that the person you’re referring must be registered with a GP in Berkshire, safely away from the alleged perpetrator, and not currently engaging in other forms of therapy.
BRAVE is commissioned by the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner with MoJ funding.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you live in Berkshire, BRAVE operates in your area. If you live outside Berkshire then please don’t worry: other support is available for you. Please see the FAQs below for more information.
Sometimes it can be hard to know whether you are experiencing domestic abuse. If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, please speak to your healthcare professional for further information and advice.
Domestic abuse can have a severe impact on mental health and people can find it difficult to access the support they need, but support is available for everyone who has experienced domestic abuse.
Even if you are not eligible for support from BRAVE, there is still help available for you. Please see the following question for more details.
If you don’t meet the criteria for our service, please don’t worry. There is still help available for you out there and you are not alone! The following agencies may be able to help:
- Hestia provides support for those experiencing domestic abuse, modern slavery and mental health needs. In Slough, you can contact them on 01753 477352 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm), or visit www.hestia.org/slough
- The National Domestic Abuse Helpline provides nationwide support for women affected by domestic abuse. They are available 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
- The Men’s Advice Line offers support specifically for men affected by domestic abuse. You can contact them on 0808 801 0327 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm and until 8pm Mon and Wed), or visit www.mensadviceline.org.uk
- For advice for male and female perpetrators of domestic abuse looking to stop, or for victims and friends/family looking for information or help for a perpetrator, or frontline workers working with perpetrators, you can contact the Respect Phoneline on 0808 8024040 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm), or learn more at www.respectphoneline.org.uk
- The Dash (Domestic Abuse Stops Here) Charity provides support for women, children and men experiencing any kind of abuse from partners, ex-partners or family members, living in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. You can contact them on 01753 549865 (Mon-Wed 9.30am – 2.30pm Thurs-Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm), or visit www.thedashcharity.org.uk
Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA) provides support for women and men affected by domestic abuse, living in Bracknell Forest. You can contact them on 0118 950 4003 (24 hours), or visit www.berkshirewomensaid.org.uk
Absolutely! The BRAVE programme has recently created a special YouTube channel which contains a variety of mindfulness and meditation practices that you may find useful. To access the channel, please click this link.
BRAVE is the original service for women and people assigned female at birth; BRAVE Too is our new service for men and people assigned male at birth who have experienced domestic abuse.
Yes! Please let us know when we talk to you to make sure that we meet your needs.
The BRAVE / BRAVE Too 12 week programme is where everyone starts. To get the most out of the programme we ask that group members attend each session. The groups run term time with a week off over half-term. BRAVE EMBRACE / BRAVE Too EMBRACE is the group for graduates of the 12 week programme. Some people come every week and some just attend when they feel they need some support – all are always welcome.