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All survivors Deserve To Be Heard

Women’s Aid launch new mental health campaign to ensure the mental health needs of survivors are listened to and responded to effectively.

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Farah Nazeer, CEO at Women’s Aid, said:

Melanie Brown, survivor and Women’s Aid patron, experienced long-term coercive control during her ten-year marriage. Even years on, her mental health remains affected, having suffered with both PTSD and anxiety. Her experience is not an isolated one, it is one that will be recognised by countless survivors of domestic abuse. When women reach out for support like Melanie, they need to know that help is there, which is why we are asking the government to properly fund domestic abuse services in the community, to make sure that both women and children can get the help that they need.  

Our new statistics show that almost half of the women in refuges (45.6%) say they have experienced depression or had suicidal thoughts as a result of the domestic abuse they experienced¹. These figures are likely to be tip of the iceberg – due to the fear and stigma surrounding mental health, many women won’t disclose problems.  

We must listen to these ongoing experiences of trauma if we are to respond to the needs of survivors; domestic abuse has severe and long-term impacts on the mental health survivors.  

Our new flagship campaign – Deserve To Be Heard – will ensure that the mental health needs of women are heard and responded to effectively. Vital survivor voices are at the heart of this campaign, and we will not be silenced until all women and children have access to the mental health support they deserve.  Its key aims are to change perceptions and attitudes towards survivors’ mental health which compound women’s trauma and inequality and to secure sufficient funding to enable specialist women’s services – particularly those led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised groups – to deliver vital mental health support and long-term healing. 

From long waiting times for support, victim blaming and communication barriers to stigma and a lack of trauma-informed responses and services — mental health services are failing survivors. There is a poor understanding of the connection between mental health and domestic abuse, with women often being asked ‘what is wrong with you?’ rather than ‘what has happened to you?’ Deserve To Be Heard aims to challenge this; bringing an end to victim-blaming, reframing how we think and talk about domestic abuse and mental health. It will strengthen our societal response to domestic abuse and help survivors rebuild their lives.  

Read about the Domestic Abuse Commissioner's support of our urgent #DeserveToBeHeard campaign
¹ Data on number of women having reported feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts are from On Track: The Women’s Aid case management and outcomes monitoring database. On Track is used by over 85 local service providers throughout England. Services contribute to a national dataset by recording information on women’s experiences of abuse, the support they are offered, and the outcomes achieved. Data here are from a sub-sample (3,194 refuge service-users) of this national dataset where information about service users was taken from cases closed during 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021 and where a detailed abuse profile for service users was available.

© 2021 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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