Natalie Collin’s Own My Life course is an innovative, creative and educational course developed to support women who have been subjected to abuse or violence from a partner. With a feminist analysis of male violence and the harm men do to women and children, Own My Life runs over twelve weeks and builds knowledge and skills week on week.
At the start of this year, CASWA ran this course as a face-to-face group for the very first time. Delivered by our experienced and trained Women’s team as course facilitators, we used short videos, structured discussions, group and individual activities to explore the impact of domestic abuse and support the women who took part to understand how they can regain ownership of our lives to move toward long term recovery. The comprehensive learning journal, Own My Story, was purchased by CASWA for every woman who attended and provided a space for reflective learning which can now be used as an ongoing resource after the course has finished.
During lockdown in 2020, our team of Domestic Abuse Specialists from our Women's Team attended a week-long training course to become accredited facilitators. As seasoned workers who have worked in the violence against women field for many years, we were blown away with this course. With its straightforward explanations of complex concepts and developed by a survivor with lived experience, the team unanimously agreed that we needed to bring this to the women we support.
A lot of preparation went into organising the running of the course, from securing funding to exploring potential venues and purchasing equipment. Like many things over the past couple of years, the course ran later than initially hoped as we waited for covid restrictions to ease. However, at the start of this year we were ready to begin our first roll out of this course. We invited a small number of women who were currently or previously supported by the service to form our first group.
At CASWA, we know the benefit of having a safe and supportive environment for individuals to participate in group discussions or have space to reflect on and process their own experience and trauma. The Own My Life course has been shaped around concepts of mutuality, respect and dialogue, creating more ‘space for action’ to make informed choices and regain ownership of our lives. As Natalie Collins explains, “abusers steal our joy” so fun and laughter were a huge part of how we delivered the Own My Life course.
We've now completed our first roll out of the Own My Life course and safe to say this won't be the only time we'll be delivering this course! We're really excited to be adding this course to the package of support we provide at CASWA and look forward to supporting current and future women working with our service to regain ownership of their lives. We're already making plans for the next course!
We asked the participants what they would say to other women who were invited along and were thinking of coming to the Own My Life course. Here's what they said:
"Do it, will be the best decision you make."
"Stick with it and be honest, reflect on it and learn more."
"Go for it - it’s a game changer."
"Absolutely, it really helps."
"Definitely do it!"
"Everyone should be able to do this."