My name is Natasha Benjamin, and I am the founder of Free Your Mind, a London based not for profit service that supports children and young adults who have experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence includes things like emotional, economic, physical and sexual violence along with coercive control, and sadly, has been on the increase, particularly through the pandemic where we experienced a 900% increase in referrals to our service – a feature seen all around the world.
Natasha Benjamin, Founder and Managing Director
Children are all too often the witnesses of violence in the home, a trauma that can stay with them for a long time. The violence can be accompanied by frequent visits from the Police, from Social Workers and ultimately, experience of the Courts. All this can affect children’s mental health and well-being, both in the short and long term. Likewise, it can affect their ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, both with family members but also intimate personal relationships in later life.
I am determined that children have support as soon as possible, as early intervention is crucial. I started Free Your Mind in 2013 to be the difference children need, in the moment they need it. My passion really comes from my own personal experience of growing up around domestic violence trauma and recovery. I want to help children and young people to heal from difficult past experiences.
My team includes trauma-informed practitioners, all with a lived experience of domestic violence. We understand what children are going through and use our professional training and personal connection with the issue, to make a difference.
We offer therapeutic support face to face, and through a secure in-house video service, we provide support remotely as well as offering an online anonymous chat support service.
Our therapy includes self-care tools, which help to improve relationships within families, at school, with friends and peers. We are present when and where children need us – so we meet children in schools, providing safe spaces for those affected to talk with confidence about their experience, anxieties and fears and so get help. We work with social workers in local authorities and within the Court system, to ensure children and young people's voices are being heard. We also provide very practical support, including personal items, clothes and household items to help those families fleeing abuse.
To help in the medium and long term, Free Your Mind works closely with other organisations to influence policy, and judicial changes.