Plenty of support there for domestic abuse victims

Worcester News: VICTIM SUPPORT: Martin Lakeman, strategic co-ordinator for the Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse. VICTIM SUPPORT: Martin Lakeman, strategic co-ordinator for the Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse.

AS the county’s support of the 16 Days of Action comes to a close, the Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse is keen to raise awareness of the help and support available to those caught in its cycle.

The campaign, which ends on Monday, has been supported by your Worcester News.

Martin Lakeman, strategic co-ordinator for The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse said: “These specialist workers provide a lifeline for victims at a time when they are most vulnerable and give them the courage and confidence to make informed decisions on the way forward.

“Our message is simple, don’t suffer in silence.”

l ISVA – or Independent Sexual Violence Adviser – offers support to women aged 16 and over who have been raped or sexually abused at any time during their life.

The ISVA service offers women the opportunity to talk in a safe and confidential environment.

They will complete an initial risk/safety assessment with their client and from this a support plan is agreed and will work towards empowering women and breaking down the isolation and loss of control associated with sexual violence crimes.

The service is available to women who have reported a crime to the police and those who have not.

A number of women have decided to report an attack as a result of the support they received from the ISVA.

In 2011/2012, the ISVA service received 194 referrals – an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year.

l West Mercia Women’s Aid provides a critical service to those who are at high risk of harm through domestic abuse, through its IDVA – Independent Domestic Violence Advisors – service.

They offer advocacy at MARAC – or Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference – meetings and represent the views and wishes of the victim to the agencies present at the meeting.

They provide comprehensive safety planning support and advice and can support a client through both the criminal and civil justice systems. IDVA are completely independent of any statutory agency and act on the wishes and views of their clients.

West Mercia Women’s Aid IDVA service can be contacted by calling 0800 9803331, available 24 hours a day.

l MARAC offers a co-ordinated community response for all those agencies involved in tackling domestic abuse; the role is a vital one in protecting those who are at high risk from suffering imminent and/or escalating abuse.

Worcestershire’s MARAC was launched in 2008 and has discussed more than 1,000 high risk cases of domestic abuse, which have involved more than 1,200 children.

At the meetings, a safety plan is devised for each victim, including arranging for a police officer to check on a victim’s welfare; providing extra security measures in the home; ensuring that schools do not allow children to leave with anyone else; and enlisting the help of health visitors and midwives.

For information about the Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse, contact Martin Lakeman on 01905 822 357.

To call in confidence about domestic abuse call 0800 980 3331, and the West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre can be contacted on 01905 611 655.

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