DiaNa - domestic abuse is Never acceptable
A manual for working with women who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic abuse
By Nicci Vella and Doreen Murdin

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

There is abundant material for working with perpetrators and with children who have experienced domestic abuse. But resources for work with the women who have suffered abuse are scarce. This manual provides practical assistance for anyone working with women to successfully facilitate a group-work programme to:
  • support women who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse
  • help them to break cycles of abuse and move on from damaging relationships.

  • Written in language that is accessible to as many women as possible, it can be used by less experienced workers, including those without academic training, as well as by those who have undertaken this type of work before. They will still find it to be helpful.

    It also provides sufficient background information on domestic abuse... It explains that there is still a long way to go in understanding and addressing its complexities; that workers may come across behaviour that they would dislike and not tolerate in their own relationships, but that this may not necessarily be abusive; that children can be deeply emotionally affected by witnessing domestic abuse.

    Its principal focus reflects the authors' very extensive experience. It sets out how domestic abuse impacts on women. It enables facilitators of all levels of experience to be sensitive and effective when working with women... women who have experience of some or all of the wide spectrum of abusive behaviour.

    This manual will help you to help women to learn that domestic abuse is not just about physical violence; that it involves the absence of some or all of what is normally considered necessary in healthy relationships. Part of the aim for women involved in the group-work that this manual helps facilitate is to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships; and develop an understanding of the kind of relationship they want and deserve.

    Anyone undertaking work of this kind should make sure that they too have help and support to protect and value themselves, in what can be very demanding situations. But this manual can help you set up a comprehensive, sensitive and very rewarding programme that:
  • deals with the impact of domestic abuse and challenges readers to begin to understand how it feels to be a victim
  • provides practical advice and exercises for use in running a group programme
  • includes photocopiable handout sheets for use in these exercises. Anyone who registers their purchase with RHP can obtain the photcopiable expercises in PDF format at no extra charge.

    A4 wiro. 96 pages. 978-1-905541-51-5. Published 2009. £24.95.


    In women's support groups, refuges, child and family social work, safeguarding, counselling, youth work, prison and probation work, substance misuse work, education, and health and voluntary organisations... this manual is for practitioners, trainers and facilitators who wish to run a group with women who are experiencing, or have experienced, domestic abuse.


    The impact of domestic abuse
    Silence (a poem)
    The impact of domestic abuse
    This is the house where Pat lived (a poem)
    Why women choose to stay
    From a child's perspective
    Footsteps on the gravel (a poem)
    Running a group
    Case studies and issues for discussion
    Rainbows (a poem)
    Exercises to facilitate group-work
    Introduction to the exercises
    Bringing the group together
    Recognising healthy relationships
    Exploring childhood
    Exploring feelings
    Recognising harmful relationships
    Moving forward
    Photocopiable handouts


    Nicci Vella
    has spent 18 years working with children and families in statutory and voluntary settings. Her experience includes group-work with children living with domestic abuse. She currently works as a children's guardian. Doreen Murdin has spent 20 years working with children and families in statutory and voluntary settings. For the past ten years she has run a group for women who have experienced domestic abuse. Nicci and Doreen's work can be found at www.dainaproject.co.uk.


    "A guide for professionals working with groups of survivors of domestic abuse, a category of clients whose care has been largely neglected in literature to date.

    "Practical rather than theoretical in orientation, the manual lays out a structured programme based on 22 simple exercises to be offered to women who have experienced domestic abuse. They are gentle and deliberately flexible, to be adapted to the needs of the group and to accommodate presenting issues and concerns.

    "The suggested interventions are designed to empower survivors to make decisions for themselves and take action necessary to implement changes in their lives. The authors do not purport to have any magic cures or solutions to a problem they portray as wide and complex. DaiNa succinctly conveys a suggestion that, for such women, recovery is a process which will take time. It recognises that, while a group context might be helpful to such survivors, dilemmas will often beset even the most experienced facilitator.

    "The contents of the manual are realistically presented by authors with a significant combined experience in the field, offering readers valuable tools with which to offer support to abused women." Addiction Today.

    "Group work has been regarded as a significant, effective and sometimes transformative intervention for domestic violence survivors. This intensely practical supplement manual provides a group work program consisting of a series of exercises and handouts for group work with women survivors of domestic abuse. It is clearly written and is accessible to both experienced and inexperienced facilitators. The authors hold a depth of experience and hand down the practice wisdom of many practitioners. Different materials from poems to active group building exercises to discussion triggers are available. This manual is an excellent baseline group work resource and makes an important contribution to working with women affected by domestic abuse." Community Services Research to Practice.