This week is #NoMoreWeek, an international week of campaigning to raising awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The week aims to inspire individuals, organisations, and communities to make change.
In Dorset, there are several support services for victims of domestic abuse, some of which are funded by my office - The Police Maple Team, Victim Support, BCHA and Paragon (formally The You Trust) all provide much-needed support for those most in need during a difficult time in their lives. It is also important to remember that these services can be accessed without involving the Police.
Over the past month, I have shared more in-depth information from a few of the services that support the victims of Sexual violence including STARS, Restorative Justice and the 24/7 Rape helpline. In light of #NoMoreWeek, this week I’d like to share with you an example of support that is more directly tailored to the victims of domestic abuse. I have invited Toby Mallowan from BCHA to talk about the services they offer, including their new Domestic Violence Adviser that my office commissions.
Toby Mallowan, Head of Homelessness, Health and Wellbeing at BCHA said: “BCHA are delighted to have received funding from the OPCC to recruit a specialist Hybrid Independent Domestic Violence Adviser/Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (IDVA/ISVA) and train colleagues as IDVA’s, to support women who have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence.”
“Our IDVA/ISVA will work from our Respite Rooms Service, which provides accommodation and support for women experiencing homelessness and complex trauma, with support needs that cannot be met through the single housing pathway. DLUHC research showed that in 2020 over 60% of women who were street homeless had experienced domestic abuse in the previous year. By establishing multi-agency partnerships, the IDVA/ISVA will allow us to provide continuity of care and reduce re-traumatising people by reducing the need for an individual to present to multiple services and repeat their story.”
“The OPCC funding enables us to access specialist, accredited training and hold a nationally recognised qualification, for 4 colleagues across our young people’s, community, and safe accommodation domestic abuse services in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. This enhances our ability to secure the safety of survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence at high risk of harm from partners, ex-partners or family members, and the safety of their children. Where an IDVA is involved with a case, evidence shows that there is clear and measurable improvements in safety, including a reduction in the severity of abuse and a reduction or even cessation in abuse.”
As well as supporting victims, I also recognise that prevention is key. Dorset Police works with partners to tackle the root causes of domestic abuse, but we need to focus more on the perpetrators of this horrific crime, often committed against those who are vulnerable. Therefore, my office works with partners to commission programmes that disrupt perpetrator abuse and support them to change their behaviours. If these programmes can stop or reduce the risk of domestic abuse before it happens, then more families can live without fear.
Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that ruins lives, and we must recognise it is perpetrated by all genders against all persons. I have pledged to do all that I can, as Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, to ensure that this county is the safest in England and Wales – there is no doubt that this means that everyone must be safe, and feel safe, whether on a night out, walking home or in their own homes.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner