This PSHE and SRE workshop – delivered by me, Andrew ‘Bernie’ Bernard – will help people to recognise domestic abuse and coercive control, appreciate the damaging nature of its portrayal in the media and ‘entertainment’, know what to do if they (or someone they know) experiences it, and finally challenge our young men to stop the cycle of violence in theeration whilst educating girls on the ‘red flags’ to look out for. Some Statistics: 1 in 4 women and girls will experience some sort of domestic abuse from a partner; between 2 and 3 women a week are killed by their male partners or ex partners; 60% of all female homicides are caused by their partners. The statistics haven’t changed for some years – in fact during the COVID-19 Lockdown in 2020 Domestic Abuse reports grew…this is one epidemic that isn’t getting better.
Starting with the tragic and powerful story of my sister, Sarah Gosling –- murdered by her partner Ian Hope in 2012 –- I’ll show how coercive control and domestic abuse can start and escalate within relationships. Session participants are then asked to consider their own experiences* and awareness of domestic violence and how they feel about it. Fundamentally, the workshop aims to raise awareness of the subject and challenge some of the myths and responsibilities involved in this area of relationships and what each and every person can do to put an end to domestic abuse.
In March and April 2021, in response to the police response to the disappearance of Sarah Everard and the publication of the UN Women UK findings that 97% of women 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment AND the sexual harassment and “rape culture” alleged in independent schools we have adapted the workshop to greater focus on what young people can do to develop strategies and changes to the culture of sexism, misogyny and male violence including understanding consent.
Here’s some feedback from the Head of Sixth Form at a Grammar school in the North West:
“Bernie led a virtual assembly and follow-up workshop over Teams with our Year 12 and Year 13 students on the topic of domestic violence. Both tutors and students have reacted very positively to these sessions. His delivery was excellent, and he appealed effectively to the teenage target audience. The interactive nature of the workshop worked very well, generating thoughtful and meaningful discussion on a challenging topic that continued between students and staff well beyond the session itself. This is a difficult topic to address, but Bernie’s use of a highly personal story followed by opportunity for discussion and analysis of statistics proved a very effective mix. I would recommend this session to other schools wishing to tackle the issues of domestic violence and sexual harassment and I have invited Bernie back so that all future generations of Sixth Formers can benefit from this insightful and powerful session.”
We have received support and guidance from Refuge (Refuge.org.uk) when designing this programme and will be donating some of the proceeds from the workshops to their charity. I was also delighted to be asked to speak at the Nursing In Practice Annual Conference in 2017 and 2019 at the NEC and at the SECC in Glasgow.
Emily E, KS4 Head of Year, South Lakes, Cumbria, Nov 2022. DV and Coercive Control.
“I can’t recommend Bernie’s session on Domestic Violence enough. Bernie came into school to talk to a large full year group of 256 KS4 students, he immediately made them feel more comfortable by telling them a little bit about himself. Bernie held the attention of all of the students throughout the session, some of them were even seen nodding along. The session was pitched really well to the age group, the content was hard hitting but delivered sensitively and appropriately and provoked many discussions afterward. One student was overheard saying she felt “out of her comfort zone but in a good way“. The session delivered a really clear message and the use of statistics really helped deliver this too. Bernie did a far better job of delivering this message than we could!
Clare, Year 10 teacher, Oldham, Gtr Manchester. November 2022, DV and Coercive Control workshop:
“As a teacher, I genuinely appreciated the messages you gave. It must be (still) an incredibly hard journey for you in many respects, but the way that you explained your message to the year group I was with (year 10) will stay with me forever. Thank you for telling you sister’s story so others may understand, may spot signs of abuse, may challenge behaviours or, if inappropriate to do so, may bring it to the attention of the right people who can. I wish you and your family safety and happiness.
Sincerely, thank you again for your time yesterday. The students in my year 10 class just now were still talking about it today. Boys mainly concerned about how bad the situation is. Your message is being heard. It opened a great discussion about ‘whether there may also be more men suffering too and maybe as society gets more used to men not having to be the dominant macho type, it might help the situation as a whole’ (a boy’s words not mine)”.
We have also gained support and piloted the workshop with Faisal Ahmed Head of Humanities at Stretford High School and his students from Stretford High School. Faisal said “Thank you so much. You made a real impact on the year 10’s lives”.
Workshop Statistics – from surveys of Year 10/11 students who took part in the workshop:
– 73% said the workshop was ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’ – 27% said ‘Good’;
– 100% of participants had a better understanding of Domestic Abuse / Violence and 100% would know what to do if they / close friends were victims of Domestic Violence.
Comments: “My knowledge increased a lot through this workshop”; “The Workshop expanded my knowledge”; “Domestic Violence happens a lot more than I thought it did”; “Domestic Violence is conveyed in many ways”; “Domestic Violence can be very simple and very subtle”.
T. Farnell, Safeguarding and Welfare Officer, QMGS, Walsall: “Bernie came to our school and delivered a number of workshops to students in year 10, 12 and 13. I have watched Bernie deliver his session a number of times in our school and it is still as hard hitting and powerful as the first time. From speaking to students afterwards they were all incredibly moved by the talk and left with a better understanding of coercive control and domestic abuse as well. If you only book a visit from one person this year, make sure it is Bernie”.
R. O’Donnell, Head of Pastoral, Asst Headteacher KS3: “Harper Green School were delighted to welcome Bernie to help support our PSHE curriculum with the delivery of a workshop around healthy relationships and in particular domestic violence. Bernie’s delivery of such a sensitive theme was pitched perfectly, engaging both students and staff, and has provided a foundation for further discussions and conversations. Thank you Bernie!”
R. H. Head of Pastoral Support, Oldham College, Full week of Sessions for all courses and staff CPD: “Wow it was a real privilege to be in your session this morning.
What a great week of raising awareness and creating conversations amongst our students and staff. THANK YOU!”
*Pastoral teams / support staff are made aware of the workshop taking place in case any personal trauma is triggered.