‘Despite experiences of contact with multiple services, in many cases the lack of information, inadequate risk assessment, and multi-agency work, means that many women continue to fall through the gaps, remaining invisible.’
This is from a January 2019 report (pdf) from Agenda, AVA (Against Violence & Abuse) and the Lloyds Bank Foundation. The report examines the experiences of women facing multiple disadvantage around domestic and sexual abuse, focusing particularly on the women’s experience of support and service provision.
The report found that:
- 60-70% of women using mental health services have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.
- Women who have experienced domestic & sexual abuse are three times more likely to be substance dependent than those who have not.
- There is a clear need for a more joined-up approach to support.
- A Home Office campaign entitled This Is Abuse, which highlighted abuse in teenage relationships, was cited as a great resource for awareness raising and help seeking.
- Most women said they felt practitioners they had engaged with did not fully understand them if they had not had similar experiences themselves.
- The issue of women-only spaces was raised by a couple of the interviewees. However, a higher number felt that lived experience was more important than the gender of the person giving the support.
- Many interviewees recommended training for all services, including: the need for service providers to have an understanding of abuse; the many varied reasons why it’s so hard to leave an abusive relationship; and clarity around the impacts that trauma has on women’s lives.
- The importance of a trusting relationship built on understanding and empathy is absolutely vital for women to feel safe and confident to engage with services, underpinning all other factors.