Women's Support Services

We are only able to provide a direct service to (ex-) partners when the person responsible for the violence has been referred, or has referred themselves to our proramme, and has completed the initial programme suitability assessment phase.

However, this page provides answers to some of the questions most commonly asked by our clients. They may be of relevance to your circumstances wherever you live. Click on the questions for the answers.

  • What is domestic violence and abuse?

  • Who is responsible for the violence and abuse?

  • Isn't the violence because of drinking too much alcohol?

  • Should I leave my partner?

  • Isn't my (ex-)partner ill?

  • Don't we need "marriage guidance" counselling?

  • What is Ahimsa able to give me?

  • If they come on your programme, does it work?

Violence is any physical act that hurts you or forces you to do what your attacker wants but you don't. Violence includes being pushed, slapped, grabbed, shaken, hit, or raped. It also includes things like having your hair pulled or your throat squeezed.

By domestic violence and abuse we mean physical, sexual, mental, emotional or financial abuse by a current or past husband, partner, boyfriend or lover. It can also include your father, brother, uncle, son or any other male member of your family.

Violence is any physical act that hurts you or forces you to do what your attacker wants but you don't. Violence includes being pushed, slapped, grabbed, shaken, hit, or raped. It also includes things like having your hair pulled or your throat squeezed.

By domestic violence and abuse we mean physical, sexual, mental, emotional or financial abuse by a current or past husband, partner, boyfriend or lover. It can also include your father, brother, uncle, son or any other male member of your family.

Domestic violence usually includes other abusive behaviour that you find frightening or degrading. Most of the (ex-)partners we talk to describe being shouted at, intimidated, threatened, humiliated. They have also been deprived of their money or their freedom.

The perpetrator is. Always. You may have heard all sorts of myths about why victims are beaten and abused: "They deserved it." "They provoked it." "They asked for it." "They enjoy it." and so on.

Blaming the victim is merely a convenient way for an abuser to avoid responsibility for what they do.

Violence is nearly always a strategy used by abusers to get what they want.

No, though using alcohol or drugs can make violence worse. There are many people who are heavy alcohol or drug users. Most of them are not violent. Blaming alcohol is just another way of avoiding personal responsibility.

If they abuse drink or drugs it simply means that they have two problems to sort out.

That's up to you. Maybe you should leave before there is any more violence. You can explore your options with a number of agencies including Women's Aid.

The advice you receive from any legitimate agency or professional should place your safety as the main priority.

Possibly, but many other people are physically, mentally or emotionally unwell, who are not violent. Illness does not cause violence.

Most of the abusive people we see do not suffer from any diagnosable or serious mental or physical ailment.

Perhaps, but not right now. There may be other problems within your relationship but we don't think it's fair to engage in couples counselling when you can't speak openly and freely for fear of reprisals when you get home.

Couples counselling can be another way for an abuser to avoid responsibility for their behaviour by implying that somehow it's "the relationship" that's at fault.

Our confidential partner service is free of charge to partners and ex-partners of anyone who have been referred and accepted on to the perpetrator programme.

If your partner does not complete the programme, we will not withdraw the service we offer to you.

We will not tell your partner that you have sought advice or assistance from us unless you explicitly ask us to tell them.

The Partner Service is able to provide:

  • Up to date information about your legal and welfare rights
  • Information about other support services throughout Devon and Cornwall
  • Information about what your partner will be doing on the perpetrator programme
  • Advice about how to plan strategies to improve your safety
  • Moral support or formal counselling and practical advice either by telephone or face-to-face
  • Groupwork with other (ex-)partners who have had similar experiences

Whether it works is up to the client. Some improve substantially, others improve a bit, many don't change at all. For change to occur it takes solid commitment over many months. If an abuser makes contact with us, that's encouraging - but most of those who join the programme drop out in the first few weeks.

A client will need to change their beliefs, attitudes and expectations and learn new ways of dealing with their feelings.

If you have any doubts, here's a list of questions you should ask yourself. If your answer is no to any of them, there is still work to be done:

  • Have they stopped being violent or threatening me with violence?
  • Have they stopped abusing, intimidating and humiliating me?
  • Have I stopped being afraid of them?
  • Can I be angry without them retaliating?
  • Is it safe for me to disagree with them?
  • Can I freely make my own decisions about my own life?
  • Do I feel respected by them?

Ahimsa is a charity registered in England and Wales (No. 328598) and a Company Limited by Guarantee (No. 2455838) © 1996