Delivering circles of support and accountability to protect communities from sexual harm and sexual reoffending


BREAKING THE CYCLE: supporting non-offending partners

Circles South West has added a specific victim-focused programme to our range of services.

Breaking the Cycle is a group-work programme designed to inform, empower and offer support for the non-offending partner or ‘significant other’ of a man who has been accused or convicted of sexual abuse.

We know that many men who have sexually offended return to live with their families or establish a new relationship where children are living. Partners of these men play a key role both in terms of protecting children and the offender’s relapse prevention.

We understand, too, the trauma experienced by the whole family when sexual abuse is perpetrated. The abuse itself and Child Protection enquiries that follow are often confusing and upsetting and can result in harmful isolation when a non-offending partner feels the anger, denial, guilt and stigma associated with their (ex) partner’s offending. Whilst not the primary victim of CSA, the family and non-offending partners are secondary victims for whom, regrettably, there are limited opportunities to access support and information in these circumstances.

Breaking the Cycle is based on the principle of cognitive therapy and offers a place for non-offending partners to:

INFORM – Learn about sexual offending

EMPOWER – Help non-offending partners contextualise their partner’s offending behaviour

SUPPORT – To decrease the isolation and stigma felt by the non-offending partner and facilitate support networks in order to strengthen the individual’s ability to protect their children.

Following a referral and assessment the programme is delivered in a group or 1 to 1 and is made up of the following 10 sessions:

At the end of the programme a report is written for the commissioning organisation to assess participants’ response to the intervention and their capacity to protect their child/children from the risk of sexual harm and assess areas of future need.

CSW is Licenced (by sister charity Circles South East) to deliver across Wiltshire, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Gloucestershire. This initiative is being led by Coordinator Sara Radford with referrals from Local Authority Children’s Services.

We are delighted to have been recently commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council and Swindon Borough Council to deliver this programme and hope to rapidly roll out this important programme across the south west region.

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