Refuge advocate tells her story…
Here a Refuge Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) from Kent, shares her story. Due to the nature of the IDVA's work, their identity is kept hidden.
“I have worked for Refuge for the last two years. I am an independent domestic violence advocate and my job is to support women who are at high risk of domestic violence – many are often at risk of homicide. I support over 100 women every year – but Refuge, through its range of services supports over 1,600 women and children on any given day. The work the Refuge team does changes lives and saves lives. I feel very proud of the work I do, Sally is an example of the type of woman I support.
Photography by Julian Nieman
I met Sally after she attended a walk-in health clinic in Folkestone following an attack by her ex. He had broken into her house, pinned her to the bed and threatened her with rape. She managed to run out of the house and call the police from a payphone before her attacker dragged her back to the house to repeat the ordeal again.
Sally was especially vulnerable as she self-harmed using pieces of broken glass, so I supported her to go to the local mental health service and to attend hospital when her self-harming produced serious injuries.
I also liaised with police to make sure she was kept up to date with the criminal case against her ex. Sally was deemed so high risk that she was referred to the local Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), which brings together all the agencies involved in supporting a victim of domestic violence, and I became the lead for her case. She was understandably frightened of attending court and facing her attacker, so I accompanied her and made sure she felt safe enough to testify.
Towards the end of the court case Sally was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I supported her through the diagnosis, gave her information on cancer help and chemotherapy and provided daily/weekly support over the phone. I also supported Sally to claim the benefits she was entitled to given her condition.
Photography by Julian Nieman
Her attacker was eventually found guilty of sexual assault and ABH and was sentenced to 128 days in custody. The judge also ordered him to be registered on the sex offenders register for life. Sally continues to fight cancer and I still continue to support her by ringing her every couple of weeks.”
Please speak out to ensure that all women like Sally can receive the vital specialist support they need. One in three local authorities currently has no specialist domestic violence services whatsoever. Sign Avon and Refuge’s petition to ensure that every woman can access support, no matter where she lives. For more information visit www.fourwaystospeakout.com.
Spread the word: On September 30th Refuge and Avon are calling on you to speak out against domestic violence and spread the word about this vital petition via Facebook and Twitter.
Follow @Avon_UK and @RefugeCharity or visit www.facebook.com/fourwaystospeakout or AvonUK Facebook page to get involved!