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In September 2021, we launched our flagship campaign, Deserve To Be Heard, which aimed to raise awareness of the devastating impact of domestic abuse on the mental health of women and their children.

Alongside survivors, our federation members, parliamentary champions, and community campaigners, we have raised awareness of the devastating impact of domestic abuse on the mental health of women and children and worked to secure a more supportive policy environment and funding for essential mental health support.

We know that specialist services – particularly those led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women, d/Deaf and disabled women and LBT+ women – are best placed to deliver the long-term healing needed to support women through the trauma of abuse. Throughout the campaign, we highlighted the importance of dedicated funding for these specialist women’s services.

We are pleased to share some of our proudest campaign achievements with you.

Read our Deserve To Be Heard impact report here.

Campaign wins

Over the course of the #DeserveToBeHeard campaign, we secured some big policy successes.

In March 2022, the Home Office published the Tackling Domestic Abuse plan, which included notable achievements for the campaign, including:

  • Recognising domestic abuse as a gendered crime, and that it complements and is fully aligned with the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy
  • Providing £7.5 million over 3 years to enable healthcare professionals to better identify, refer and support victims and survivors of domestic abuse

We also saw the publication of the Women’s Health Strategy, which lists mental health and tackling violence against women and girls as two out of its six priorities.

The new Health and Care Act 2022 ensured that a mental health expert would sit on the new Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) across the country. Accompanying guidance requires ICBs to set out specific steps they will take to address the needs of survivors of domestic abuse. 

Identifying the need

Before launching Deserve To Be Heard, we asked survivors and our federation of member services what their campaigning priorities were. Mental health came out on top. To ensure that this campaign responded to survivors’ most urgent needs, we published two literature review, clearly highlighting domestic abuse as a key driver of women’s mental ill health and revealing the negative impact of structural racism on the mental wellbeing of Black and minoritised survivors and their attempts to access support.

Are you listening? 7 Pillars for a survivor-led approach to mental health support report. This research was conducted with a view to understanding what domestic abuse survivors want from mental health support. Read the full report

Amplifying survivor voices

Survivor Advisory Board

The Deserve To Be Heard campaign was developed and implemented in consultation with our Survivor Advisory Board. The group was made up of survivors from diverse backgrounds including women experiencing multiple forms of oppression due to their race, sexuality, disability, and other factors, which create even greater barriers to being heard. The board helped to create powerful awareness-raising content, fed into research, and met with politicians and other key decision-makers.

Online survivor space

Together with survivors, Women’s Aid developed an online space for women and children to share their experiences of mental health and domestic abuse in creative ways, such as poetry, art, video, and blogs.  The site received over 3,000 visits since its launch.

The Road We’ve Had to Walk

Through the campaign, we collaborated with survivors to co-produce a short film highlighting the barriers to accessing mental health support, faced by the most minoritised women, and the change they want to see. This was launched in parliament in January 2023.

Working together to drive change

We built a community of over 2,000 campaigners and seven Parliamentary Champions, dedicated to supporting the campaign and helping to raise awareness of the need for specialist mental health support for survivors of domestic abuse.

220 letters to MPs and local councillors were sent by our #DeserveToBeHeard campaigners and federation of member services, to ask them to support specialist women’s services providing mental health support to survivors.

36 MPs pledged to #HearHer and listen to the voices of survivors in bringing about effective mental health support. The call was also supported widely on social media.

478 campaigners signed our open letter to the Women’s Health Ambassador, successfully urging her to speak and engage with survivors at the parliamentary launch of our campaign film.

Continuing to make an impact

We know that the struggle for mental health support is not over and we will continue to stand up with and for survivors of domestic abuse, until they can all access the support they need to heal. Using the vital resources created by survivors through the campaign, we will continue to raise awareness of the issues with health  , policy-makers and the public.

As we head towards Women’s Aid’s 50th birthday, we are focusing on our Come Together To End Domestic Abuse campaign, to help us work towards a future where domestic abuse is always intolerable.

If you want to help us end domestic abuse, sign up to become a campaign champion today.

With thanks

At Women’s Aid, we are always striving to be survivor centred and inclusive. For #DeserveToBeHeard, this meant making sure that the campaign is informed by lived experience of domestic abuse, mental ill-health, and intersecting forms of oppression and ensuring that the voices of survivors and specialist women’s services have been at it’s heart.

We are thankful to the campaign Survivor Advisory Board, run in partnership with Imkaan, Women’s Aid member services, and the campaign’s Expert Advisory Group of sister organisations for sharing their expertise and insight,

We are grateful to the Bally’s Foundation for sponsoring Deserve To Be Heard.

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