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Community / Women’s Aid course encourages participants to ‘own their life’

Some of the staff at Shetland Women's Aid: Photo: SWA

SHETLAND Women’s Aid still has places available for its weekly Own My Life course, which combines research about abuse and trauma with support from trained practitioners.

The 12-week course, which begins on 23 August, is available to all women who have experienced domestic abuse.

Prevention education coordinator Ashlea Tulloch told Shetland News: “It’s for any woman that has been subjected to domestic abuse at any point in their lives, so it could be something that happened 20 years ago, it could be last year.

“It could also be somebody who’s still living with domestic abuse – there’s no time limit on it.

“It can be any kind of abuse as well…a lot of participants assume that it has to be physical violence, but it can be coercive control.”

The course is made up of 12 weekly two-hour sessions, which take place in person. There is an option to join online for the first session.

Ashlea Tulloch, prevention education coordinator at Shetland Women’s Aid.

“We work through a programme of videos and activities that are all about helping people understand what’s happened to them and bring them back to themselves,” Tulloch explained.

“It’s called Own My Life because it’s about helping these women gain ownership of their lives again.

“Often when people have gone through domestic abuse then they’re having decisions made for them, they’re maybe not able to live their life how they would like to.

“This is all about giving them back the power of choice.”

She described how a typical session would begin: “Each session starts off with a silly question like what’s your favourite food or what’s your favourite film.

“A lot of people would think ‘well, how does that relate to domestic abuse?’

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“It’s about helping these women discover who they are again – maybe they’ve not been allowed to have a favourite thing before or nobody’s ever really asked them for a long time.”

Sessions also include learning about psychoeducation, how trauma affects the body and responses to stress.

“There’s some other stuff like helping them identify the values they would like in a partner and ultimately helping them to understand that they are good enough by themselves,” Tulloch said.

Once the 12 weeks are complete, there is also the option for the women to continue meeting as a group and do activities together, such as walking or crafts.

Anyone interested in taking part should get in touch with Women’s Aid by calling 01595 692070 or emailing office@shetlandwa.org to make sure they are safe and suitable for the course.

Participants do not need to be already receiving support from Women’s Aid to join the course.

Tulloch added: “When the course ends, if they still feel like they need support to talk through any of the content, then they can be assigned a support worker to help with that.”

All participants receive a Own My Story manual. Photo: SWA

All sessions are free of charge, due to £2,000 of funding Women’s Aid have received from Safe Deposits Scotland’s Community Fund.

“That will go towards the running of the course, it is totally free for participants,” she said.

“Participants get a nice manual…it’s got lots of activities and exercises.

“This funding pays for that, it pays for the cost of the room hire, teas, coffee.

“It means that we can keep going and do the course now and then probably another couple of courses next year.”

The Shetland branch has run the Own My Life course a few times in the past, with participants responding very positively.

One woman said: “I didn’t say much for first couple of weeks but the more the course went on I could see from the discussions what [was] happening to me, and I should not be having to go through that. Nobody should.

“I am now in a better place in myself, the class OML was a very big help to me.

“I learnt to speak up in the classes and talk about the things that I had to put up with and deal with.

“If these classes could continue it would certainly help a lot of women to get their lives back and take control of themselves.

“It has certainly helped me to be me and own my life, and that is what I am doing.”

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