Change That Lasts is our plan for a future where all survivors get the right response to domestic abuse the very first time.
For many women, when they first disclose they are experiencing domestic abuse no one listens to them. No one consults them about how to stop the abuse, despite the fact that no one knows the abuser better than they do.
Often women who disclose abuse are assessed by domestic abuse professionals for risk, and then divided into categories. Those at “standard” or “medium” risk are left to fend for themselves, or offered an hour of counselling a week with little support to escape their abuser.
Not surprisingly, many women struggle to escape the abuse permanently, build their independence, and get their lives back.
Creating Change That Lasts
Our decades of experience working with survivors, and the evidence of research, have taught us a better way. By listening to women we can provide help earlier and make sure its effects actually last.
Change That Lasts is an approach that places the survivor at the heart and builds responses around her needs and the strengths and resources available to her.
Too often this approach is considered too complicated and too expensive. So to make it clearer, we have created an infographic to represent a woman’s journey and the journey she could have taken. This illustrates the enormous cost, in human and financial terms, of not listening to women and responding to their needs.
We’re going to keep advocating for a response to domestic abuse that has women at its centre. We are consulting with our membership on a cross-sector approach to domestic abuse that truly has the needs of survivors at its heart.
Safeguarding Adult Review – a call to build Change That Lasts
The below is a condensation of a complex and lengthy Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR). The names of both parties have been disguised and elements of the story condensed to protect the confidentiality and identity of Tracy’s family.
You’ll notice how Tracy used public and voluntary sector services, many times, and how each missed vital opportunities to understand Tracy’s situation. Many professionals lacked the training and skills to understand the patterns of control and manipulation exerted by Tracy’s husband. This SAR shows clearly how a narrow understanding of domestic abuse as ‘physical violence’ hides the range of a perpetrator’s behaviour, which includes emotional abuse, coercive control and financial and economic abuse. The lack of awareness of how ‘coercive control’ is a central part of domestic abuse contributed to Tracy’s isolation and worked against her attempts at seeking help. This was exacerbated by ‘victim-blaming’ from communities and professionals.
Tracy is a lifetime resident of Sunderland. She has been married for over 40 years. Now retired, Tracy was an active trade union member and official and still has strong family and community networks. She manages an enduring mental health condition with anti-psychotic medication and has good relationships with her GP and Community Psychiatric Nurse. Tracy regularly sees her family GP for blood tests, medication reviews and other routine appointments. After many years, she asks her family GP for help around the controlling behaviour of her husband, which she thinks is impacting on her ability to manage her mental health because of his surveillance and constant monitoring tactics.
We believe that there were significant ‘missed opportunities’ to make the behaviour of the perpetrator visible and offer Tracy a strengths-based, needs-led approach that would have helped build Space for Action.