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Women and girls: Changing Pathways

19 May 2016

To celebrate the 63 projects that are just starting work on their projects helping women and girls across England regain and retain control of their lives, a number of projects will share their stories with us over the next couple of weeks.

Jessica Barclay-Lambert, chief executive at Changing Pathways (formerly Basildon Women’s Aid)

Jessica Lambert -Changing Pathways

Last year Changing Pathways dealt with another insidious case of domestic abuse where the perpetrator impacted the lives of many people. This case was not particularly unusual in the VAWG sector – a perpetrator commits heinous violence and abuse against his wife (Abi) and children for years, eventually he is arrested and convicted.

From prison, the perpetrator arranged for Abi to be stalked and threatened by his network. But, it wasn’t just Abi being stalked, her family and friends became targets too.

When the perpetrator was released from prison, as you would expect, there were conditions set whereby the perpetrator was not to go near Abi or their children. Agencies came together before the prison release to safeguard Abi and the children. Abi said she had accepted that her fate was death; she knew he wouldn’t stop until he killed her, but she agreed to move hundreds of miles away with her children. She said she’d do it for everyone else, but not herself as she had accepted inevitability.

Agencies worked well together, the Probation Officer kept practitioners informed. We arranged for safe accommodation and support for Abi and her children by another Women’s Aid provider.

He still found her. At the time, nobody knew how. Despite all the disruption tactics and conditions in place, he still found her. He told his probation officer that his determination to see Abi would never waiver. It transpired that a member of his network had fitted a tracking device to Abi’s car. Having breached his conditions by travelling to Abi’s location, the perpetrator was arrested. He was released hours later.

After much harassment of Abi’s family and friends (including threats to their children), Abi felt the only way to keep everyone close to her safe was to return back home. Fortunately, Abi summoned the strength not to, but her decision hung in the balance, and to this day, it still does.

As a domestic abuse support service, Changing Pathways is restricted in terms of the support we can provide to all victims who are not an immediate member of the intimate/family relationship. We don’t have the staff capacity or funding to reach extended relationships, nor do we have the depth of stalking specific practice knowledge or understanding of legal remedies. Abi, her mother and her friends all needed our support but this was an impossible challenge, weighing all the more heavy as no other agency existed in our locality who could offer this specialist dedicated support either.

Recognising the impact of stalking and how we felt so limited and restricted, we submitted an application the Women and Girls Initiative to establish a dedicated stalking advocacy team based in South Essex. We have made connections with the national organisations Paladin, Protection Against Stalking, Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Veritas and we are looking at how we collaborate as effectively as possible to develop this much needed service for all victims of stalking regardless of their relationship with the perpetrator and their postcode.

If you would like to find out more about the other projects funded today through our women and girls initiative, please click here 

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