Written by Marilyn Selwood

Services Associate for the ManKind Initiative at ManKind Initiative

Marilyn has been involved in Domestic Abuse services for around 17 years she is also a member of the Avon & Somerset Police Independent Advisory Group as a specialist critical friend for the force.

IDVAs are advocates that work with Domestic Abuse victims that are deemed to be at high risk of harm or homicide and in addition to safety planning and advocacy part of the IDVAs role is to empower the victim and enable to access the right support and allow them to recover from their experiences.

To know that they have broken the cycle of abuse and hopefully that them and their children will go on to have healthy relationships is the ultimate goal.

As an IDVA your role can vary as some specialise in certain areas for example Health or Courts so they will not necessarily work in the community in the same way as other IDVAs. Some may also do this role as part of their wider job. IDVAs usually work for a commissioned DA service where their role will be funded by the Local Authority and sometimes other funding streams such as grants or specifically contracted pieces of work. Some IDVAs are individually funded by agencies such as Health Trusts and Young Peoples Services to specifically work with certain cohorts of victims or in certain areas.  Young Peoples Violence Advisors (YPVAs) usually work with young people aged 13 – 18, sometimes older, in the same way as an IDVA but also have specialist skills for working with young people and supporting them to form healthy relationships in the future. Some IDVAs and YPVAs will also deliver group work and training as part of their role.

IDVAs will liaise with other organisations and professionals such as Children’s Social Care, Police, courts, solicitors, Housing Officers, Education Officers and Health & Wellbeing professionals to build a network around the victim and their family. It is important that the safety plan involves a team around the victim and promotes good multi agency working, transparency and reduces duplication. IDVAs may attend regular MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) Meetings where a team of practitioners discuss high risk cases and try to put a plan in place to support them, their children and the alleged perpetrator.

When a victim/survivor needs to attend court to provide evidence or give statements to the Police they can often be supported by their IDVA . The IDVA will arrange for them to attend pre court visits so that they are familiar with the building and know what to expect on the day and also to arrange a safe place for them to wait, entrances/exits, etc. The IDVA may also support the victim to apply for special measures such as screens or video links.

When the risk reduces, IDVAs will very often refer the survivor on to other support services including things like Pattern Changing courses or The Freedom Programme.

The Challenges….

It can be really difficult to get some victims to engage as they are often very fearful of repercussions. They are often afraid that they may have their children taken away, that they will have to leave their home or that people won’t understand that they still love their abuser. It is really important for the IDVA to reassure them that they are independent whilst being clear about confidentiality and the IDVAs duty to safeguard if necessary.

The Best Bits….

To see a survivor a few months or even a year or so after you have supported them in a safe and happy place is really rewarding. To know that they have broken the cycle of abuse and hopefully that them and their children will go on to have healthy relationships is the ultimate goal.

Additional Reading/Resources

Our Useful Links section is a good source of information for organisations that can help.

‘How Do I Obtain A Non-Molestation Order’

‘When Should I Call The Police?’

 

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