Journey to Freedom is a personal development group process, for women who have experienced domestic violence. It provides a safe and supportive group process to enable women to explore their experiences of domestic violence and to empower them to move on.

It was adapted from a model widely used throughout Canadian refuges and was initially developed by staff in North Down and Ards Women’s Aid. Over the years, the programme has proved to be an exceptional tool in assisting women to recognise patterns that exist within abusive relationships. As a result the Journey to Freedom process has been rolled out across Women’s Aid groups in Northern Ireland.

Journey to Freedom can help women to establish peer networks, talk about their experiences and access much needed support as well as creating opportunities for learning and safety planning.

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What women say about Journey to Freedom

Journey to Freedom has helped me in so many ways. It’s hard to put it into words. There have been weeks when I have felt happy and released and other weeks when despair seems to surround me. And on those days, when I have needed answers most, you have been my rock.

It is as though we have all fallen into the same hole but we haven’t been able to climb out at the same pace. Sometimes, one of us has been left behind, but then we have stopped and listened and, if needs be, we have reached out a hand and helped them up.

Now I am at the top, ready for new challenges. I would be lying if I said I now felt totally confident, but I am enlightened. For years, I felt like a coward, unable to stand up for myself and I hated it! Now I can remove that thought from my head and replace it with a better thought. I am not a coward, I am a survivor.

A Journey to Freedom participant