BRAVE: Emotional Support after Domestic Abuse

An opportunity for primary care service users, the BRAVE project is all about Building Resilience and Valuing Emotions

Introduction by BRAVE Graduates

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. This video was created by graduates and Ambassadors from the women’s group to welcome new members into BRAVE.

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. When you are on the waiting list for a group, you will be invited to join BRAVE Community, our monthly chance for you to meet other people who will be joining your BRAVE journey, from fellow group members to the staff team and our BRAVE Ambassadors.

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’ve recently launched our BRAVE Too service: a 12 week programme that provides a safe, supportive environment where men can engage in a therapeutic service tailored to their needs. The BRAVE Too Reunion group, which graduates can attend after completing BRAVE Too, also meets regularly.

BRAVE offers an individual review session 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.

Please note that BRAVE is designed for adults over 18 who are registered with a GP in Berkshire and do not currently use a Community Mental Health Team’s services.

What people love about BRAVE (in their own words)

Woman smiling at the camera holding books

Non-Judgemental Space

“The structure of the sessions allows everyone a safe and respectful space to speak, process and be heard.”

Group of men by Toa Heftiba

People Who Understand

“I felt heard and very supported by other ladies that understand the shared experience. The workshop was very enlightening, thank you.”

Woman platting childs hair

Regaining Control

“I find understanding why we have these feelings validating and understanding what I can do to help ease anxiety, keep my nervous system calmer and get back to the version of me I lost, invaluable.”

Group of people laughing

Trauma-Informed Support

“Staff were really compassionate and knew so much about trauma and the body. It was very insightful. The group were so welcoming and warm, I have so much respect for the women who came today.”

What BRAVE Offers

Content

Identifying and learning to cope with difficult emotions, covering many topics and practical skills

Togetherness

Meeting and learning from others in the group; having a shared understanding

Safe Space

Having a closed group creates a non-judgemental and supportive environment where members feel able to open up

Good Facilitators

The facilitators are approachable, trustworthy, understanding, friendly, and non-judgemental

Debriefing

This creates a space to raise any issues, and validate feelings through discussions with others

Impact on Life

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

Referrals to BRAVE

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:

  • Hestia
  • 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 here 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.

Police and Crime Commissioner Logo

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; BRAVE Too is our new service for men 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 Reunion is the group for graduates of the 12 week programme. Some people come to every session and some just attend when they feel they need some support – all are always welcome.