Frank gets HELP

Frank was referred to social services after rowing with his partner because his youngest son had become upset at school and told teachers about his fears.

The couple were invited into school. Both were asked by social services to voluntarily agree to attend courses run by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) aimed at preventing domestic conflict.

Frank* was asked by social services to attend Help, a programme run by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) for men who have either committed domestic abuse or are considered likely to do so.

The 29-year-old had been convicted of domestic abuse 10-years-ago and was sentenced to complete a course called Domestic Violence Awareness.

The father-of-three said: “The course’s name was hardly sweet on the tongue. I had bad memories from that. Coupled with the fact that this time I hadn’t been convicted of anything put me in a doubly-bad frame of mind before I started Help.

“My partner has depression. When we rowed, I felt really bad that we’d done it in front of the kids and that they’d been so affected.

“My boy had gone into school really upset. I want to do whatever I can to make sure that never happens again.”

Frank completed the Domestic Violence Awareness in 2008 and hated the experience.

He said “I felt labelled and that the course was condescending. The terms the other men used about women were terrible and it turned my stomach. They were all chauvinistic pigs.

“This time it was a totally different atmosphere, even starting with the course’s name. The way Help is presented, I didn’t feel like I was being judged, and the course flows and is directed by what participants discuss – rather than it being strictly delivered from a book.

“We get information and then learn about the tools to use it. Prevention is better than the cure. That’s the overriding message. And I feel it’s really made a different to me this time.”

Roy Cook, interventions lead, co-facilitates Help at offices across M CRC with his colleague Cindy Green

Frank says he has learned to appreciate when the right time is to have difficult conversations.

He added: “In the heat of the moment letting everything out just doesn’t work. You don’t put things right, and only end up getting more worked up.

“De-stressing situations, taking time out, learning to think more from your partner’s perspective – these are all key things.

“I’ve given myself over to Roy and Cindy. It’s also really helpful to hear about the scenarios which other participants describe. We can all help and learn from each other.”

Roy said: “Frank has done exceptionally well and is eager to learn. He was willing to give the course a go even though his experience when he was younger was so negative. I think that illustrates how well interventions have developed over the years.

“We all make mistakes, we all lose our temper. Learning how to spot the signs to avoid you losing control, and learning how to better express yourself and your feelings – these are all skills which take time and application to develop.

“Help is dedicated to achieving that aim.”

Frank* is not his real name