In Conversation With JUNO Women’s Aid: “This Work Is Much Needed”

Sophie Bryer

Content Warning: reference to domestic abuse
Over a month ago I had the pleasure of interviewing JUNO Women’s Aid, a Nottingham City and South Nottinghamshire based charity that offers “support services for survivors of domestic abuse”. A huge thank you goes to JUNO Women’s Aid for this opportunity and facilitating this article which looks to spotlight a local domestic abuse support service, available to women and children in Nottinghamshire.  
In a conversation with a long-time staff member of JUNO Women’s Aid, I began to understand the charity and services it offers that are highly essential. JUNO’s “main aim is to end violence against women and girls”, in hope to achieve their “mission to see a world where women are supported” throughout their experiences of domestic abuse and male violence. The work of JUNO carries such gravitas as they “work to eradicate domestic abuse” and empowerment it seeks to bestow upon survivors of domestic abuse.  
Speaking about JUNO, it became clear to myself that empowering each survivor of abuse is at the core of the charity. The name JUNO, in fact, is “about strength of women”, “women being able to choose their life path” and finding “strength within femininity and other women”.  

“Everything about [the] service is about the promotion of women and girls”

The organisation has been providing essential lifesaving and restorative work for over 40 years in Nottingham. During those 40 years the charity has helped local women, teenagers and children (5-17 years old) affected by domestic abuse, reclaim and regain their independence.   
JUNO is “a service for women led by women”. When speaking to the charity it became clear that the female-centred aspect of the support service was pivotal and at the heart of what JUNO seeks to achieve. I was told that “everything about [the] service is about the promotion of women and girls and ending that violence”, that so many women experience and will experience in their lifetime. The current figure stands at 1 in 4 women in the UK. In my opinion there is a great importance of having a female-led service which aims to support female survivors of domestic abuse.

I wanted to ask JUNO why they believe this was essential to the work they strive to do: “it is important because domestic abuse is a very gender-based crime” and women are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse. A large proportion of women that work within JUNO are themselves survivors of domestic abuse, enabling them to give survivors and the families affected a heightened level of understanding and care. The “by women for women” motto that JUNO holds at its core is not an anti-men stance but simply about reclamation, “empowerment” and “women sticking together in order to bring forth healing and recovery from these horrendous situations”.  

In 2021-2022 JUNO Women’s Aid worked with 2095 women, 360 children and young people

Essential to the protection of survivors that enter JUNO’s services is collaboration and communication between other support services and other bodies (i.e., social care and police). JUNO works closely with several other domestic violence/abuse organisations, those include Equation, NIDAS, IMARA and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid. As well as working with other organisation in the VAWG sector who specialise in other aspects such as sexual violence, such as
Notts SVS.
In 2021-2022 JUNO Women’s Aid worked with 2095 women, 360 children and young people, fostered 49 pets and received over 17,320 calls to their helpline.  
JUNO aims to support women through a 6-month period however, this may be extended to offer more support if needed, “we are constantly reviewing their needs”, I was told. The children support service is often quicker than the adult service (which solely supports women) offering children 6-12 sessions. Throughout both the adult and children’s service, care and support are continually reviewed and is always individualised.  

There had been a definite increase in “the amount of calls to our helpline and children referrals had increased”

Since the pandemic and over the 15-years of working within JUNO, I was interested to know whether the long-term members of staff had seen a rise is cases seeking support from JUNO’s services. They noted that there had been a definite increase in “the amount of calls to our helpline and children referrals had increased”.  
Another trend noted was the rise in sexual violence happening with domestic abuse and young people’s relationships. Consequently, JUNO has carried out work around consent and their program Escape the Trap (9-week program for 13–18-year-olds) approaches the important topic of consent for young people.  
Other programs include:  
The Freedom Programme  
Stronger Families  
Young Voices  
Own My Life  
Another change seen, is in the terminology used to describe the crime from domestic violence to domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a much more accurate term to use, because domestic violence “makes people believe it is only a physical thing” but it takes many forms from coercive control, psychological/emotional abuse, financial/economic abuse, harassment, stalking and online/digital abuse.  
Speaking to JUNO from a female student perspective I was interested to know if the charity and the University of Nottingham had an established relationship, as 1 in 3 women in Nottingham have experienced domestic abuse, thus there is a high likelihood that female students have previously or are currently experiencing domestic abuse. JUNO believes in the importance of getting into universities early within fresher’s week as “there [are] a lot of people who come in from outside of Nottingham and we want them to know that there are services there and we will support them”. 

Young people don’t always recognise a relationship is abusive

Programs such as Escape the Trap “is a very good preventative tool for those first-year female students’ providing key information to all students (regardless of gender) around the importance of consent within a relationship. But primarily focusing on equipping young women with the tool of education to help protect themselves.  
Young people don’t always recognise a relationship is abusive but “just through a conversation they can come to realise that it is not normal”, that is why it is so important that female students are aware of support services that are available because “the more people are educated it helps other people to then speak out and say if they are experiencing abuse”. Among JUNO’s purposes is the raising of awareness of domestic abuse and its effects as well as challenging the taboo of silence and misconceptions of domestic abuse.  
As JUNO mentioned their services and demand for those services has not decreased over their 40-year span. The charity’s aim of sheltering, protecting, nurturing and providing empathy is necessary as JUNO poignantly told me, “this work is much needed”.  
UN Women denote that the home is ‘the most dangerous place for women and girls’, so asking JUNO’s thoughts surrounding this statement was enlightening. “A lot of [domestic abuse/male violence] is inside the home, a lot of people don’t see it”. For many women who are survivors of domestic abuse, speaking out is a danger within itself. Moreover, when deciding whether to raise issues many women are “not believed” and their voices are silenced. Collapsing the stigma and taboo surrounding domestic abuse and empowering women and families to reclaim their lives at their own pace lies at the core of JUNO.  

“There are people putting things in place to support women”

Combating domestic abuse  is about “creating those safe spaces” in which women can safely seeks help and support. Despite the issue of domestic abuse continuing to persist “there are people putting things in place to support women”. 
To get in contact with JUNO there are a number of options, either via their 24-hour confidential helpline, their social media pages, email or a drop-in session held in the community I.e., at The Women’s Centre on Chaucer Street. It is important to note that in the case of emergence 999 should be the first port of call.  
Other services run by JUNO alongside the 24-hour Helpline include:  
 Refuge Accommodation: https://junowomensaid.org.uk/refuge-
SASS (Survivor Advocacy Support Service): https://junowomensaid.org.uk/sass-
Stalking Advocacy Service: https://junowomensaid.org.uk/stalking-advocacy-
Family Court Support: https://junowomensaid.org.uk/family-court-support-
Pet Foster Project: https://junowomensaid.org.uk/pet-foster-project/  
LGBTQI+ support: https://equation.org.uk/help-for-lgbtq/  

As a friend it can be difficult recognising the signs that someone you know is a survivor of domestic abuse. Moreover, knowing how best to support that person can often seem tricky as well. The best ways to do this are by listening to her, going at her pace, encouraging her to express her feelings (whatever they may be), being non-judgmental (as they may not recognise it as abuse yet) but being direct as well as sensitive in the questions you ask. Although these conversations are somewhat uncomfortable to initiate, they are necessary, and every conversation is a form of support.  
JUNO centres on female empowerment and the reclamation of autonomy to those families and women affected by domestic abuse. Speaking with JUNO they reiterated their aim of “equipping people [women and young people] to take charge and to give them the strength to know what they need for themselves”. 
If you or anyone else has previously or is currently experiencing domestic abuse, please do not hesitate to contact JUNO, who are  ready to listen and support any woman, young persons or children in crisis as a result of domestic abuse.  
 Key Information 

Drop-ins in community venues:  
The Women’s Centre 
30 Chaucer Street 
NG1 5LP 
(Monday-Tuesday-Friday 9am-4pm) 

Nottingham city, Ashfield, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe (call/email to find out
details of venues).   

24-hour Helpline (for immediate support call): 0808 800 0340  
Email:  helpline@junowomensaid.org.uk (9am-9pm)  
Social Media:  

Instagram: @junowomensaid  
Facebook: @junowomensaidnottingham 
Twitter: @junowomensaid  

Make a Referral: referrals@junowomensaid.org.uk  
If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse, call Equation: 0115 960 5556  
Nottingham Sexual Violence Support Service Helpline: 0115 941 0440  
Galop’s National LGBTQI+ domestic abuse helpline: 0800 999 5428

Sophie Bryer

Featured image courtesy of Nadina Shaabana via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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