Thursday, May 30, 2024

Essex unites to break the cycle of domestic abuse

IF your actions make your relationships a toxic place to be, it’s time to reflect on your behaviour and get the help you need.

That’s the message from the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board (SETDAB).

A spokesperson said: “Working in partnership with The Change Project, we are encouraging people to break the cycle of domestic abuse by changing their behaviour.

The campaign focuses on different types of abuse – from physical abuse, to controlling behaviour, stalking and harassment, and uncontrolled emotions like humiliation or anger aimed at your loved ones.

Using posters and social media posts, we hope to encourage perpetrators to recognise behaviours they might be exhibiting – asking them if they’re isolating, punishing, or controlling their loved ones, for example – and the emotions they feel after committing the abuse. After research with perpetrators who were helped through The Change Project, the words anger, guilt, regret, remorse and shame were placed onto mirrors to mimic the moments where they reflected on their behaviour and knew they had to make a change for the better.

A young woman from North Essex who was helped by The Change Project revealed that she would physically abuse her mother when she was under the influence. She said that she felt guilty after the abuse had taken place and would buy her mum flowers to make up for it. She praised her time at the Change Project, saying, “[they] taught me how to manage my emotions, how to recognise my triggers, how to remove myself and get time out so I can de-escalate my anger.”

Through support, The Change Project aim to break the cycle of domestic abuse by making perpetrators realise their abusive behaviour and to prevent it in the future. Not only will this make victims safer – and will mean that some people never become victims – but it will also make real, lasting change and hopefully drive down domestic abuse offences.

In 2020, The Change Project lowered their age of referral to 16-years-old. They are now open to referrals for those aged 16 and over. We hope this will encourage young people to find help and support to manage their emotions, building positive behaviours in their lives.

The chair of SETDAB is Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Jane Gardner and the vice-chair is Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan from Essex Police. Within their respective professional careers, the pair have seen the impact that domestic abuse has had across the county and are passionate about working to break the cycle.

Deputy PFCC Jane Gardner said:
“Domestic Abuse is the largest cause of harm in our county and accounts for 19% of all recorded crime and 33% of all violent crime. It is a devasting and abhorrent crime that destroys lives and causes significant harm to victims. Through the Southend, Essex, and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board we are committed to supporting the victims of domestic abuse and reducing the number of people who suffer from this awful crime.

“The Change Project has proven successful in working with people whose behaviours are becoming abusive to stop them committing these offences before they escalate. Changing behaviours, preventing crime and reducing the number of people who become the victims of domestic abuse is critical in creating safe communities where we can all live without fear.”

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan added:
“We know that – as Essex Police, and as a society – policing and preventing domestic abuse is one of the biggest challenges we face.

“We currently believe that 51% of victims of domestic abuse in Essex are repeat victims, and we are continuing to identify people across the county who are causing harm to their family or partners. We need to help both victims and perpetrators so that we can break the cycle of domestic abuse.

“Sadly, domestic abuse is complicated and we know it’s underreported, so both of these figures are likely to be higher.

“We must protect victims and survivors, but we must also look at innovative ways to break the cycle of domestic abuse. That’s where The Change Project comes in.

“In 2021, Domestic Abuse Problem Solving Teams were created at Essex Police to recognise the cyclical nature of abuse, and to look at supporting repeat victims and monitoring repeat offenders.

“Please, whatever your role in your relationship, get help today.”

Sarah Griffin, the Service Manager for the Change Project, said: “Domestic abuse is widespread across Essex and affects people of all ages, genders, sexualities and backgrounds.

“We believe people who engage in abusive behaviour with a partner or family member can change. This campaign will hopefully reach people who want to stop being abusive and encourage them to make the first step by contacting The Change Project.”

If you recognise any of the behaviour mentioned in this article and have been reflecting on your actions, it’s not too late to make a change.

Please visit The Change Project for advice on how to make a difference to you, your family, and your partners in the future:

If you’re a survivor of abuse looking for community support in your area please visit

If you want to learn more about how to report abuse offences, you can find more information, including how to delete your recent web browser history, on Essex Police’s website:


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