Survivors of domestic abuse – which soared during lockdown – are being offered a lifeline to recovery in Salford.
Salford Survivor Project is running a new course dedicated to giving confidence back to those who have had it stripped at the hands of abusers.
Sexual violence and domestic abuse rates in Salford were already at an all-time high before the Covid pandemic, with 5,375 cases reported in 2019, a 29 per cent increase from the previous year.
Women’s rights campaigners and support organisations saw even more cases during lockdown as people were trapped in abusive relationships.
Now a 12-week course in Salford is giving female survivors of domestic abuse the tools needed to leave abusive relationships and rebuild confidence within themselves.
Salford Survivor Project (SSP) CEO Jane Gregory said: “The course is there to empower women, to take responsibility for themselves going forward. It’s not about passing the buck. It’s about looking at society, how they look at women, how they victim blame and how we, in turn, blame ourselves.”
Topics covered include establishing boundaries, how to deal with loss and grief, implementing self-care routines, noticing red flags, and much more.
An overwhelming majority of people who use Salford Survivor Project’s services, including its helpline and the Emerge Free course itself, are women who are survivors of sexual violence.
“I would say about 80 per cent of the women I’ve dealt with have been raped at some point in their life – we’re talking about a vast amount of people,” said Jane.
SSP aims to teach women to reject the societal narrative surrounding the female experience and role. It encourages them to begin to develop their own sense of self as a woman. Shifting the onus onto the perpetrators of sexual violence and domestic abuse is part of this development.
As the course encourages those who attend to discuss their traumas in pairs and groups, counsellors are on hand to help should these discussions be a trigger point.
People who have attended the Emerge Free course show severe turn arounds and improvement in mental health, sociability, and lifestyle.
Jane said: “One of the women I’ve worked with for three years, she’s going to stand up this Thursday and speak in front of a room full of people. She’s a completely different person – this is someone who would shake head to toe.”
The Emerge Free course receives no government funding. It is financed by Jane and SSP volunteers as well as donations from the public.
Bookings are already being taken for the next course in the new year via Salford Survivor Project social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org.