Charity Profile: Oasis Domestic Abuse Service
Domestic abuse is a terrifying thing to endure as part of a relationship. It isn’t ‘just’ physical abuse, but can be psychological, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse too. If someone is suffering, they need help and Kent-based charity, Oasis Domestic Abuse Service, are there to do just that. insideKENT spoke to them about their invaluable service.
What does Oasis do?
Oasis has been working with families blighted by domestic abuse since 1994. We have 18 units of refuge, or safe house accommodation across Thanet and Dover for women and children who are at such high risk of harm that they have had to flee their homes. We also offer community outreach services to men, women, children and young people to help them address the impact of their experiences, as well as to educate and inform. This includes early intervention and preventative work with young people in the community who are already at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of abuse in their own intimate relationships and who may have little understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like.
Why is the work that Oasis does so important?
The risk posed to our clients is real and serious. Two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner. Many, many more are seriously injured and traumatised, their self-esteem damaged and their future uncertain. Domestic abuse is a serious criminal and public health issue with one in four women experiencing it in their lifetime.
Every year between 40 and 70 percent of Oasis refuge clients are children, all of whom have witnessed domestic abuse and many of whom will also have suffered it themselves – a third of children witnessing domestic violence also experience another form of abuse. Children living with domestic violence are at increased risk of behavioural problems and emotional trauma in adult life and many repeat referrals to our high-risk services are young people with complex lifestyles, often borne out of childhood issues of domestic abuse.
Every child responds to witnessing abuse differently and the children in our refuge suffer in a variety of ways including nightmares, bedwetting, over attachment to their mother, phobias and behavioural problems. It is vital that they are offered specialist support if they are to recover and if we are to break the cycles of abuse that can last for generations.
What is the charity’s history?
Oasis has been delivering services to people experiencing domestic abuse in Kent for 24 years. Our charity began with a handful of dedicated people opening a refuge service in 1994. Today, Oasis delivers services to adults and children both in refuge and in the community and we are building a dedicated approach to not only intervening, but also preventing these issues in the future. We would like to see an end to the issue which we work for, and every child we teach about healthy relationships may be a step closer to this aim.
We are overwhelmed by the support we receive from the community and are glad to see that word of mouth about our work often precedes us. Throughout our history we have striven to end not only the consequences but also the causes of domestic abuse and with your continued support we will do so until the violence stops.
How can our readers become volunteers?
We have a range of roles including volunteering in our boutique charity shop, as a peer mentor and even representing Oasis as an ambassador. To find out more about volunteering at Oasis, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone Dee for a chat on 07702 201352.
Do you have any fundraising events coming up?
We have a fun quiz on 28th March 2018, and another on 17th October 2018 at Grosvenor Casino, Westwood Cross, Thanet. Tickets are £10 and include a hot buffet. To book, please telephone 01843 579999.
Also, we are having a charity golf day on Friday 15th June 2018 at North Foreland Golf Club – please see the poster for details on how to book.
What does the future hold?
We aspire to a world free from abusive relationships and we will continue to provide a range of holistic services to those affected by domestic abuse – men, women and children. We welcome the recognition in recent legislation of coercive control as a criminal offence and we will work to raise awareness of the fact that controlling behaviour is a high impact and high-risk form of domestic abuse.
Over the year ahead, we will have a real focus on intervening even earlier in the lives of children and young people. All research shows that early trauma is deep rooted and the effects intergenerational, plus we have seen repeatedly that by the age of 16 some of our clients’ lives are already extremely complex. Many children do not know what a healthy relationship looks like and we see this as evidence of a need to offer them support before they are impacted still further by the complexities of adult life and those brought about by intimate relationships.