To mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we invited a speaker, Sue, an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA), who supports clients at the I Choose Freedom refuges. Sue gave some background details to begin with about the charity saying that it supports victims fleeing severe domestic abuse. If these families were to remain in their own homes, they would be at risk of being murdered. The charity provides a comprehensive support package for 30 women and up to 60 children at one time. Each family stays with them for up to 6 months while they re-build their lives free from abuse. I Choose Freedom are currently focused on extending their property portfolio for single people who cannot access mainstream refuges.
Who can be affected by domestic abuse?
Sue explained that domestic abuse can affect women, men, LGBTQ+ and other communities. There is not a ‘typical’ victim of domestic abuse- all ages, disabilities, ethnicities, races, backgrounds and cultures can be affected. Their new project is called Accommodation for All.
Sue outlined the different types of domestic abuse ranging from destructive criticism and verbal abuse, pressure tactics, disrespect, breaking trust etc.
Some of the following statistics were given:
Every year, over 2 million adults aged 16-59 in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse.
85% of victims of domestic abuse seek help five times on average before they get effective support.
Only one in five victims of partner abuse calls the police.
Two women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner in England and Wales.
If you are interested to find out more about the charities who support the survivors of domestic abuse, you can visit this page: Violence Against Women and Girls and go to the links for True Honour, I Choose Freedom and ESDAS
If you would like to join us in advocating gender equality ( UN – Sustainable Development Goal 5 ), please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of the IDVA
Sue then went on to describe the role of the IDVA, their main purpose and how plans are made for the victim. The IDVA will support as an advocate for the victims as well as being a single point of contact. IDVAs work closely with a number of different agencies to ensure the victim feels safe and is able to move on with their lives. In the video presentation below, Sue describes how the IDVA supports those with housing issues.
Two Soroptimists, Veronica and Jenny, have recently been involved a Soroptimist national project which involved observations of Special Domestic Abuse Courts (SDAC) procedures in Guildford Magistrates Court. They were fortunate enough to speak to the IDVA present in the court room about court procedures. This was very useful and reinforced how important their role is in terms of supporting clients either in or out of court. The findings of the project will be produced later this year in a report which will be posted on this site.