Posted on: 26 November, 2020
Written by Clare Maryan, alongside the contribution by Maria Cripps.
Maria Cripps, Cranstoun’s Domestic Abuse Development Manager, joined Cranstoun in 2001. Maria was responsible for the development of our service 28b, a unique structured substance misuse day programme service in Islington. Maria epitomises the compassion and ambition that community services need to be great community services.
At 28b, this meant a service with a distinct social community feel, with a range of social activities and a strong sense of community ownership. This included developing added value services to address the needs of complex clients with a range of challenges which impacted their ability to address substance misuse. Maria is a resourceful and highly motivated individual who leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of her objectives.
It was her passion and commitment to meet the needs of clients that sowed the seeds for what is now a comprehensive domestic abuse offer across Cranstoun, and her drive to elevate the ‘end of gender-based violence’ agenda that empowered her to contribute our work for research and professional development within the domestic abuse sector as a whole.
So how did it begin?
In 2009, Maria and her team saw the distinct link between substance misuse and intimate partner violence with some of the clients who were part of 28b. Working with Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP), they created Cranstoun’s ‘Men and Masculinities’ perpetrator programme which addresses both behaviours to achieve positive change. The highly successful outcomes of this programme and its roll-out in several additional London boroughs are testament to its strength and appeal. Since then we have developed our expertise, contributing to national and international learning, and deliver a range of domestic abuse service provision including DRIVE and a fully integrated community offer.
Maria continues to work hard across Cranstoun’s domestic abuse services, continually developing its evidence base, its high quality practice and advocating for more funding and more provision to reach more people. So what does the 16 days of activism mean for Maria?
“By the time I was 21 years old I realised that I had been abused by every male that I’d had an intimate relationship with. Back in those days domestic abuse wasn’t really recognised. Women then were either ignored or blamed. I had experienced both. There were no services for women to speak of and definitely no services for male perpetrators, as of course in those days perpetrators didn’t exist…
I dreamt of being the new Emily Pankhurst, leader and game changer!! Reality was I couldn’t even manage to hold down a job, I was a terrible mother and an even worse wife (according to him). I was lucky I got out!!
Was it my experience of being a survivor that got me into the sector? No.
Almost 20 years later, I had the privilege of developing and implementing the Holloway Resettlement Scheme, a programme for female offenders in custody in HMP Holloway who were settling back into society in the borough of Islington. These were the most complex women I had ever met. Often considered to be the worst of society, even worse than their male counterparts, they were frequently sentenced to custodial sentences for minor offenses, unlike their male counterparts who were given community sentences.
Because women shouldn’t behave like that, right?
It soon became apparent that all of these women had suffered early onset physical or sexual violence. I could have easily been one of these women.
I decided then that supporting women was imperative, but also that society needed to stop blaming them. The best way I felt to do this was to hold perpetrators to account.
My name is Maria Cripps I am the Domestic Abuse Development Manager for Cranstoun. I am a leader. I am a game changer. Join me and Cranstoun in our 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence.”