September 28, 2020
Chloe’s Women’s Turnaround story
Reducing offending behaviours
Our Women’s Turnaround team support female offenders in Merseyside to make positive changes in their life and reduce their likelihood of reoffending. There are many factors that can contribute to offending behaviours and the support service seeks to understand and address these to make a long-term impact on someone’s life.
The nine pathways of offending
Chloe met Hannah from the Women’s Turnaround team in October 2019 after her offence. Hannah had a conversation with Chloe and did an assessment with her to understand her situation better. This assessment highlighted areas in Chloe’s life which were contributing to her offending behaviour. It’s believed that there are nine pathways that can increase someone’s chance of offending and our teams offer a holistic approach to support which looks at each of these:
- Children and families
- Finance, benefit and debt
- Mental and physical health
- Attitudes, thinking and behaviour
- Education, training and employment
- Women – domestic abuse and sex work
A number of these applied to Chloe’s life and there was lots of support available to her at Women’s Turnaround and our Ruby @ Turnaround specialist domestic abuse service. Chloe and Hannah explored each part of her life and how they could make some positive changes.
Chloe was working as an escort, which in itself has its own risks but Chloe was also working independently and not part of an agency which meant there wasn’t proper safety procedures in place for her. Chloe said during the assessment that she felt that her body was not her own, she was detached from it and felt like the only real purpose of her body was sex work. She used multiple aliases to separate her real self from characters she played in work. Chloe’s sex working had led to her to getting involved in the criminal justice system.
During the assessment Chloe told the team that she regularly used cocaine while working and said that this helped her block out what was happening during her appointments. Although Chloe said that she enjoyed the monetary rewards of her work and the fact he could afford this lifestyle she said she wanted to stop and make positive changes in her life. She was worried about her physical and mental health.
Childhood experience and abuse
On delving further into Chloe’s reasons for getting into sex work it became clear that some traumatic childhood experiences had never really been addressed.
Chloe had been brought up in a very turbulent family home with very little stability. Her mother was an alcoholic who physically assaulted her regularly and she had been sexually abused by her father from the age of four. She was removed from her mother’s care at the age of seven and placed into the care of her aunty and then her father. While she was living with her father she had been sexually abused again by him at the age of eleven. This had seriously impacted Chloe’s mental health and was still affecting her in later life.
As an adult Chloe had entered into a domestically abusive relationship. The perpetrator was physically, emotionally and psychologically abusive. It was this male who had introduced her to the world of sex working.
Mental health challenges
Chloe had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder along with depression and anxiety.
Due to her abusive relationship Chloe had started to isolate herself and lost trust in people. This, along with the abuse endured as a child, led Chloe to self-harm. Chloe had been taken to A&E on numerous occasions due to self-harm but had always refused mental health support. She was not on any medication for her mental health and for years had not been registered with a GP.
How our Women’s Turnaround service supported Chloe
Hannah explained the different types of support available to Chloe in their first meeting. This included referring Chloe to Ruby @ Turnaround, our specialist domestic abuse service, and talking to a counsellor. At first, Chloe was reluctant to do this and Hannah worked with her in her time to build her confidence. Chloe was also able to be a part of lots of different courses and groups at Women’s Turnaround exploring: family matters, confidence–building, understanding emotions, domestic abuse and relationships and drugs and alcohol. During COVID-19 these courses were offered on a one-to-one basis over the phone.
Through regular one-to-ones with Hannah a level of trust was established. Chloe discussed her emotions, feelings, daily routines, coping strategies, drug usage and safety precautions to take with her sex working. Throughout this time Chloe built up her confidence in talking about her lifestyle and previous experiences and started to make changes to her lifestyle, reducing her drug usage. She said she looked forward to her sessions and was now ready for domestic abuse counselling.
Ruby @ Turnaround domestic abuse counselling
Chloe began meeting with Kim from our Ruby @ Turnaround service over the phone to explore her experiences of domestic abuse and manage the impact this has on her day to day life.
With a direct trauma-led approach Kim was able to create a timeline of life events and Chloe worked on each individual traumatic event with her counsellor identifying her behaviours towards the trauma and event and piecing together what were positive and negative coping strategies.
Chloe described her life as all negative but during the timeline work she found a place in her life where she had felt positive. The team identified this part of her life and went back to the time in which she felt in control and happy in her life. Through several sessions based on this significant part of her life Chloe was able to build on more positive thinking and was able to work on more positive beliefs about herself.
With some ‘inner child’ work Chloe was able to connect with her younger self and worked through many difficult emotions an adult later feels when sexually abused as a child. Chloe worked in sessions around feelings of shame and blame and built up anger releasing those difficult emotions she had supressed. She realised that her harmful behaviour was her way of self-harming. Chloe was able to complete work around what were her positive and negative thought processes were and where they came from.
How Chloes’s life has changed
Chloe finished her counselling sessions with Kim in July 2020 and came back to Hannah for some final one-to-ones. The change in Chloe’s attitude, lifestyle, and confidence in her abilities to move forward with her life was so noticeable.
Chloe has now stopped sex working and is now signing on to Universal Credit. In her exit interview she said that even though it is taking a while to get used to the significant reduction in income she is managing ok and is feeling so much better about herself.
Chloe is no longer using cocaine as this ‘crutch’ is no longer needed to cope with the idea of unknown males taking advantage of her body.
Her mental health has improved and she has found solace in knitting, sewing and jewellery-making which she finds really therapeutic. She has also enjoyed the creative writing courses offered by the service and was involved with a writing project where she shared her personal experiences creatively and read these experiences to an audience at a Ruby @ Turnaround open day. Chloe said that she loved to write and the prospect of being able to share her work gave her focus and strength.
Inspired by the journey she has come on through support, Chloe has now enrolled on a college health and social care course and wants to support other people.
Chloe says that therapy has added ‘structure to her life’ and helped her feel like she ‘could make positive changes’. She explained how she ‘loved the writing and knowing there was always someone to talk to even when she didn’t realise she could talk’.
Hannah said about the journey Chloe has been on, ‘She feels dizzy about it, overwhelmed with the fact that the year is over and the transformation she has made in herself with our support and guidance’. Chloe described how the support she received from the service had been ‘like having a mum and dad’. Click her for more information on a Women’s Turnaround and Ruby @ Turnaround services.