Thursday 26th April 2018

Let's Take Action Against Domestic Abuse

There is no doubt of the importance social housing has in providing a safety net for those affected directly by abuse - in all its forms. WISH Cumbria's first event of the year took place the day before the national Chartered Institute of Housing Domestic Abuse Conference 2018.

“Behind closed doors nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse each year."

A powerful presentation on the impact of abuse was given by Julia Carver and Jo Nightingale from SafetyNet (UK).  This charity carries out vital work supporting the recovery of those affected by Rape, Sexual and Domestic abuse across Cumbria.

Importantly they also do preventative work in schools to help educate young people about what a healthy relationship looks like. Their work here increasingly focuses on the dangers lying in wait in social media – something previous generations did not have face and the impact of which we are seeing more clearly. The tragic, hard hitting true life film made by the Leicestershire Police Kayleigh’s Love Story about on line grooming opened all our eyes to the vulnerability of young people to predators regardless of their family, social, racial or economic background.

Jo told us “Online abuse affects many children and young people every day.  Children and young people experience something scary or bad online daily.  We help the whole family through this experience and help them stay safe. Using real life stories is part of a campaign to raise awareness and highlight the dangers that children and young people can face while safe in their own homes, how powerful social media can be, how easily it could be someone in your family and how devastating the impact this abuse can be.”

The event was attended by representatives from Housing Associations and Councils from across Cumbria, many of whom work with people who are suffering abuse. The myth busting exercises relating to abuse were a very effective way to look at some of the facts behind the statistics, including the long-lasting impacts of domestic abuse and the role housing has to play. Working through real life scenarios and then learning the actual outcome of the cases left us in no doubt of the serious need to clearly assess risk and how agencies need to work together.

There were many aspects of learning to be taken from the days but here are six takeaways when dealing with reported domestic abuse:

  • Listen and believe; consider their wishes
  • Assess risk and refer to appropriate agency
  • Make safeguarding alerts and advise on safety planning
  • Help to access support with practical, emotional, health issues
  • Help build self-esteem and trust
  • Keep accurate records

We presented Safety Net with donations of toiletries brought by the attendees for use by clients, which were gratefully received. Feedback from the event was very positive and everyone stated they had an increased understanding of the wider impact of domestic abuse and other forms of abuse that take place behind closed doors. We know this session resonated with the group and will look to build another similar event.

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