We’re all slaves to patterns of behaviour – including some that stop us achieving happiness. Marcus Chapman met the inspirational Tina from NDADA who helps women in abusive relationships change their patterns of behaviour – and in doing, change their life.
Tina has been running North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (NDADA)’s Pattern Changing course in north Devon for nearly 14 years.
Her commitment and passion comes from a very personal place, as at the age of 21, Tina found herself in an abusive relationship she had been stuck in for years. For her own safety and that of her two daughters Tina knew she had to get out, which she managed with the help of family and friends. With the kids tucked under her arm she escaped and moved to a different area, and says: ‘it was a huge step at the time but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing’.
Once Tina had made the leap, life started to change very quickly for her. She spotted a job advert in the local paper for an outreach worker at north Devon Women’s Aid (now NDADA)- and got it. Now, 15 years and many qualifications later, Tina has helped countless women across the country through Pattern Changing.
‘The course means so much to me,’ she says. ‘It’s all about women realising they’re not to blame for their situation, and helping them blossom to reach their full potential. The support and powerful bonds that women forge on the course is also huge for them, as they draw so much strength from each other.’
What is Pattern Changing?
NDADA ran its first pattern changing course back in 2001 and since then it’s become a crucial tool to help women across the region.
The main aims of the course are to help women break the cycle of abuse and change patterns of behaviour which can lead to returning to the partner or entering another abusive relationship.
The 14 week programme focuses on the women and her power to change the course of her life, aiming to help women understand the abuse and its impact on the entire family. It also sets out to help the individual have awareness of her behaviour patterns, set realistic goals and teaches key techniques so she can develop new, healthy patterns of behaviour.
Depending on funding levels there are seven or eight courses available each year in Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe. All locations are kept highly confidential to ensure the safety of participants on the course and NDADA provides an environment which helps women feel secure.
Tina has developed and fine-tuned the course over the years, using all her teaching experience to make the course as accessible as possible. ‘It’s brilliant watching the evolution of women on the course. At first there can be a lot of nerves and very limiting beliefs on how they see themselves, but how they change and develop can be amazing.’ Tina says.
‘I’ve always carried round a bag of pills as taking my own like seemed my only escape. Now, for the first time in ages, those pills aren’t in my bag’
Witnessing the impact first hand
Marcus, one of the re:story writing team was lucky enough to be invited to the last session of a recent course, which is a day of celebration with lots of cake, bug hugs and mugs of tea.
‘It’s no exaggeration to say I was bowled over by the positive emotion in the room,’ he says. ‘It was incredible to feel the impact the 14 weeks had had on women from all backgrounds and ages. New lifelong friendships had been made. One women said to me, “I had a ‘bingo’ moment after about four weeks. I’ve always carried a bag of pills around with me, as taking my own life seemed my only escape. I see it isn’t now, and that I’m in control of my life, and for the first time in ages those pills aren’t in my bag.”
‘Another commented, “You gain so much strength from other people on the course, and you realise you’re not alone. It’s the most beneficial thing I’ve ever done.” The lives of those women are changed forever.’
For more information on Pattern Changing contact NDADA direct on 01271 370 079.