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A New Approach to Domestic Violence

A new approach to tackling domestic violence is undergoing trials in England. The new scheme, ‘Change that Lasts’, is currently being piloted in Northumbria, Nottinghamshire and Surrey to help women experiencing domestic abuse receive support earlier, and help them to achieve long-term recovery and independence.

The scheme has been launched by domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid, in partnership with SafeLives, and has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Women and Girls Initiative.

Current Systems Not Working

According to Women’s Aid, existing approaches to tackling domestic abuse and the systems in place are not working effectively. Survivors frequently report to Women’s Aid that opportunities to help them were missed.

The charity has therefore proposed a new model to provide a framework that facilitates the shortest, and/or most effective route to safety, freedom and independence for each survivor. This programme will put the survivor at the heart of it, basing the support given on their individual situation and the resources available to them; for example, support from her friends, workplace, or a family network.

Three Main Schemes

‘Change that Lasts’ is formed of three main schemes that will work together to get victims of domestic abuse to safety, freedom and independence quickly:

  • ‘Ask Me’, a community-based campaign, aims to create communities in which survivors can disclose abuse early, and access support quickly. The scheme will create safe spaces in local business and community settings where women experiencing coercive control and other forms of domestic abuse can talk to someone and get help they need quickly.
  • ‘Trusted Professional’, a campaign centred on support and professional services, will provide specific training to those working in a service that are likely to have contact with victims of domestic abuse. The training will help these professionals to identify the signs of domestic abuse and violence, provide support and advice including safety-planning and signpost victims accordingly.
  • ‘Specialist Support Services’, a specialist domestic violence services focused scheme working with local services to adopt a strengths-based, needs-led, trauma-informed approach.

Listening to Women

“Our decades of experience working with women, and our research, have confirmed that we need a better way than the current approach to domestic abuse,” explained Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid. “Too often our response to women who are in appalling situations is still based on an inadequate understanding of what they really need to be safe and to recover. We end up focusing on short-term measures which do not enable families to thrive in the future.”

“By listening to women we can provide help earlier, and make sure that the help is effective and long-lasting, leading to true independence,” she said.

“It is brilliant news that the Big Lottery Fund is supporting domestic abuse provision for women and girls,” added Diana Barran, Chief Executive of SafeLives. “We know that provision continues to be piecemeal and often some of the most vulnerable families are not supported. The Big Lottery Fund has recognised we need to test innovative ways of working to move towards long-term change.”

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