VICTIMS of domestic abuse on average suffer 50 incidents before seeking help.

Andover Crisis and Support Centre is one of the services those suffering can find that support they need, having been on the frontline for the past 43 years.

The 19-bedroom refuge is a place of safety for women and children who have fled abuse, but it also operates a variety of programmes, drop-in sessions, community outreach and counselling open to all sexes.

The New Street centre supported 720 women, 233 men and 496 children in the last financial year, and manager Yvonne Bradbury says it is a place anyone in any crisis can find support.

Yvonne said: “We take clients for anything that is a crisis in their life. We are here for an awful lot of things. I think that is why we are supported by the community.

“We are never turning someone away, even if we are signposting them somewhere else. We are probably at the heart of the community and we hope it stays that way.”

Domestic abuse services across the county have faced major structural changes in the last four years, and with changes to be made by Hampshire County Council as tendering begins next month, the Andover charity, which is currently subcontracted by the YOU Trust, is unsure what this will mean for the near future.

Yvonne added: “We will know by January who will win the tender and what we do.

“We will just have to wait and see what happens.”

Within its £400,000 annual budget, donations from the public go a long way in providing the running of its services and 24-hour centre.

One programme hailed by senior support worker Melody Lee as a success is the Freedom Programme, which aims to educate women on the reality of domestic abuse.

Running for 12 years, the programme has now expanded to create a Freedom Forever series set up last year to allow clients to reinforce their knowledge and build confidence.

Melody said: “The reason I have done it for so long is because it is so beneficial.

“Half the women are still in abusive relationships coming secretly to understand what is going on.”

“From the Freedom Programme people have said ‘if only known this still when we are younger we might have made better decisions’.”

Yvonne added some women suffering abuse who attend the programme have ended up deciding to leave their situation and move into the refuge.

Often a turning point for victims to leave an abusive partner for good is when they see the effects abuse has on their children, she also said.

Across the 29 years the manager has worked there, Yvonne has noted a number of changes.

“Women do have more complex issues, we have more local people who come.

“They come into the refuge but it might be their partner lives across the other side of town.

“They feel safe here and want to stay.”

“People now self-medicate on alcohol and that makes it difficult.”

In England and Wales, two women a week are killed by a partner or former partner, and Yvonne said men killing their children and themselves as revenge “also seems to be quite often,” and is “always a concern.”

A tragic case of a father killing his two children in Tidworth occurred in 2012.

n To get help or more information call the centre on 01264 366122.