The Domestic Abuse team is a mixture of service manager, senior IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser), 3 IDVAs, outreach workers, 3 prevention officers, children and families workers and admin coordinators. We’re such a diverse group, all women and predominantly Deaf. We also have a hearing administrator who is fluent in BSL.
Our typical working day is extremely varied. The Service Manager and Senior IDVA are responsible for receiving referrals and contacting women at risk to offer support. They would then allocate the right support. The IDVAs and outreach workers would then go out and meet the clients and offer support, making sure that the risk of harm is reduced.
Our young peoples team focuses on providing workshops at schools, colleges, drop in centres and many other places to raise awareness. Some of the topics we cover include cyber bullying, sexting, grooming and many others.
Our Children and Families workers focus on support Deaf mothers and their children to have a healthy relationship, working with social services and any relevant departments.
Every day is completely different for our team. Day to day we could be at court, a conference, a training course, at the police station, at a social services meeting, at a school providing training. The list goes on and on!
The biggest challenge we face on a daily basis is barriers due to communication. There have been countless occasions where an interpreter hasn’t been booked for a police interview or court case. When a client has been suffering with domestic abuse, they sometimes need to go to a ‘refuge’ as they are not safe at home. We have had many cases where a refuge refuses to accept a deaf women because they don’t know how to communicate with her. This is by far the biggest challenge we face, until awareness is raised our clients suffer in the system.
Seeing our clients leave an abusive relationship with our support is the biggest highlight for us. We’ve received cards and presents thanking us for our support in helping our clients through such a difficult time. Our service has been recognised by The Charity Of The Year awards and The Emma Humphreys memorial prize. And we have also been nominated for National Diversity Awards this month (please vote for us!). This means the sector is becoming more and more aware of how unique and important our role is.
We also fight daily for Deaf awareness in the domestic abuse sector. There needs to be more awareness in order for Deaf people who have experienced domestic abuse to be more supported. Deaf Awareness week is a great way for organisations to provide training!
We are very proud to be a part of Sign Health’s mission to become a national service. We are part of a diverse, deaf led organisation who is passionate about improving mental health services for Deaf people.
This blog was written by Marie for Deaf Awareness Week 2019.
Why does SignHealth provide a domestic abuse service?
Domestic abuse can have severe short and long-term impacts on a survivor’s health. Deaf people are more at risk than our hearing peers to experience abuse and barriers to getting the information and help needed to stay safe.
At SignHealth, we are working towards a future where Deaf people can lead safe, healthy lives, with the same opportunities to meet their full potential.