Why Change that Lasts?
Why we need a new model
For many women, no one listens to them when they first disclose domestic abuse. No one asks them about how to stop the abuse, despite the fact that nobody knows their abuser better than they do. They are the expert in their situation.
Often women 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 to be placed on a waiting list for services with little or no support to escape their abuser. We also know that women are at significant risk at the point of separation from an abusive partner, as shown by the Femicide Census. 76% of women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse were killed within the first year that followed their separation. Unsurprisingly, many women struggle to escape the abuse permanently, build their independence, and get their lives back
What are survivors and member services telling us?
- Survivors are not being believed or responded to appropriately. For example, telling women to leave when this is when the risk of being killed is at its highest, or asking women to provide proof that they’re being abuse before they’re able to access services and support.
- Opportunities to help are being missed. Our research found that the average length of abuse experienced by women accessing support services was just under six years. The length of abuse experienced ranged from one month to 60 years.
- A focus on risk alone can lead to well-intended professionals making defensive decisions that go against what a survivor wants to happen. This disempowers both the professional and survivor.
- Services are not meeting the full range of needs of survivors. This includes practical needs (housing, parenting, finances), as well as physical, mental and emotional needs. Services are not often accessible to dip in and out of as and when they’re needed.
- Support for long-term recovery is not always available.
- Those who are facing multiple disadvantages or have multiple support needs are slipping through the net. In fact, they are often being turned away from services.
- Services are too focused on ‘what’ they need to do, when ‘how’ they do it is equally as important.
- We are wasting money. Women are having to go back to services because their needs are not being met.