“Before I joined, I couldn’t have told you who I wanted to be. But now I can see a future!”

Rosie from BRAVE

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Two days after Christmas, pregnant, and with a toddler to look after, Rosie’s husband kicked her out of the house in the middle of the night. As he controlled her access to money, Rosie’s options were limited. In fact, her husband was so controlling that it made Rosie feel like “a shell of a person,” and sadly she couldn’t understand why she felt that way. “I wanted him to hit me,” she said, “so I would have a reason to leave.”

After being kicked out, Rosie temporarily lived with her mother who had her own serious physical health issues; unfortunately, these made it impossible for Rosie to stay with her for long. This led to her having to live in a B&B for several weeks before moving into temporary accommodation. Incredibly, Rosie gave birth unassisted during this time and even cut the cord herself, naming her child after the accommodation she was in.

After spending several months there, Rosie finally found a forever home—but her husband’s behaviour became increasingly difficult to handle: he would text Rosie to ask when she was coming back and followed her everywhere in an effort to maintain control even after they split. Finally, Rosie was able to divorce him for unreasonable behaviour and was even able to take him to court for a non-molestation the following year.

Throughout this ordeal, Rosie was suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and more. She found that the treatments she was being offered weren’t helping and a diagnosis of anxiety meant she was effectively boxed in by the system and didn’t qualify for counselling that could help.

Through DASH and the Freedom Programme, Rosie was referred to BRAVE in January of 2020. The group sessions, which run for 12 weeks and are being held online during the coronavirus pandemic, are one of the programme’s main features; Rosie initially found the prospect of joining the group scary but, after becoming a member, now says she’s developed amazing friendships, powerful bonds, and is looking forward to the future for the first time in a long while. She’s finally learned why she feels the way she does and has even developed some coping strategies with the support of her fellow group members. “Before I joined,” Rosie said, “I couldn’t have told you who I wanted to be. But now I can see a future!” While the issues with her ex are still ongoing, Rosie isn’t afraid anymore.

Rosie’s found BRAVE different from lots of the previous help she’s been offered as it doesn’t focus on labels. Instead, the group is about each person individually and the experiences they’ve been through. By viewing every single member as a person “instead of symptoms to be fixed,” BRAVE has helped Rosie to stop seeing herself as a label and start understanding her true potential. Now, Rosie works for local government and has set-up her own online business. Her courage and strength are truly inspiring, and BRAVE aims to empower every group member to find their inner fortitude and forge their own identities – just like Rosie has.

In fact, 2021 is full of exciting co-production projects that will help do just that. The BRAVE EMBRACE programme is a new initiative that Rosie is a core part of where, together with other graduates from the group, she continues to give back by helping others on their recovery journeys. Then there is training to become a BRAVE Ambassadors and an opportunity to spread the word about the exceptional work the BRAVE programme is doing… Rosie will be one of the first among them.

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 on our dedicated BRAVE page and send it to the BRAVE email address.

If you are referring yourself or someone else, please note that they must be registered with a GP in Berkshire, living safely away from the alleged perpetrator, and not currently engaging in other forms of therapy.

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