West Mercia Women’s Aid
Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
“Thank you for everything you have done for me. You will never know how much your support and kindness has helped me to become stronger and more able to see that a nice future is possible. I feel I have a life again and I will get there.”
What is MARAC?
MARAC stands for Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. It is a regular meeting where workers from different agencies (including Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), police, probation services, NHS, schools, and social services) discuss the wellbeing of victims and their children identified at high risk of significant harm or homicide. MARACs co-operate on safety and support planning to reduce the risk of people becoming repeat victims.
If you are referred to a MARAC, you will usually be consulted and your confidentiality is fully respected. You will not need to attend meetings, as your IDVA will be your representative ensuring that your ‘voice’ is heard and will feed back to you about what other agencies can do to offer safety/support.
Following intervention by a MARAC and an IDVA service, up to 60% of domestic abuse victims report no further violence.
What are ‘civil orders’?
You could try to gain some protection from your abuser by applying for a civil injunction or protection order. An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do or not to do something. This does not involve any police or other services – this is something that can be done privately by you.
There are two main types of injunctions available under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996:
- A Non-Molestation Order (NMO) – ex parte – on notice
- An Occupation Order
- Prohibited Steps Orders
A Non-Molestation Order is aimed at preventing your abuser from threatening you or your child. They cannot intimidate, harass or pester you, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of yourself. No contact is allowed directly or indirectly – the Order has a Power of Arrest to it so that the police can prosecute if you report any breaches.
‘On notice’ is where the abuser will be informed of a court date and can attend that court.
Prohibited Steps Order is aimed at protecting your children if your abuser has threatened to take them away from you. This is aimed at ensuring clear guidance on what the abuser can do with contact or taking them away. The Order can prohibit the abuser from having any contact until the child/ren reaches 18 years old.
An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you may want to apply for an occupation order. A power of arrest can be attached, non-molestation and occupation orders are only available if you are being abused by an ‘associated person’ such as a spouse, cohabitee, someone you have had an intimate relationship with or a family member. If your abuser is not an associated person you may be able to obtain an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Please visit the Rights of Women website for further information. This page contains information that may be upsetting and triggering to survivors of abuse.
Criminal justice – working with survivors
WMWA IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) work with survivors of domestic abuse to understand the criminal justice processes. IDVAs will support you through this process and work together with other partner agencies to make sure you feel supported throughout. They will advise you on criminal justice orders such as Restraining Orders and what protection these can offer you.
Working with hospitals (HIDVA)
Many people who are being controlled and abused by their partners have few opportunities to talk confidentially to others without arousing their perpetrator’s suspicion and often then increasing the risk of further and more serious abuse. Hospital is one place where people can go for a legitimate reason and know that they will be seen in private by someone who is concerned for their welfare. Even if they have an appointment for something routine or relatively minor – they know that they will have some time with a health professional when they can talk confidentially and ask for help.
WMWA IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) work in partnership with staff in the 5 main hospitals across the region – ensuring that all staff know that they are immediately accessible for either a telephone or an ‘in person’ conversation with a patient whilst they are in the hospital and at their appointment. Hospital IDVAs (HIDVAs) provide information and advice ‘on the spot’, and ensure that the patient knows how to keep themselves safe, and where to seek help in the future. HIDVAs can help a patient access services – including refuge – directly from the hospital, if that is what the patient wants.
HIDVAs also provide hospital staff with training so that they have the confidence to ask patients about domestic abuse, and are able to listen and support without judgement and with the knowledge to refer them on to specialist services, if that is what they want.
Working with perpetrators (DRIVE)
The Drive Project is a new response to domestic abuse that works to reduce the number of child and adult victims of domestic abuse, by facilitating lasting change in the behaviour of high harm or serial perpetrators. With emphasis on deterrence and disruption, as well as on education and behaviour modification, DRIVE is delivered by a partnership of agencies and co-ordinated by a case manager who acts as a single point of contact for perpetrators, who engage on a 1-to-1 basis.
WMWA works with the victims/survivors of those perpetrators who are enrolled on DRIVE to ensure that their risk is reduced and to provide them with ongoing support whilst their perpetrator is engaging with the programme. The safety of the domestic abuse victim and their children are at the heart of the DRIVE programme.
Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) Service
What are IDVAs?
WMWA IDVAs are specialist trained Domestic Abuse safety workers who support people who are at high risk of immediate and significant harm from domestic abuse. IDVAs work with both male and female victims/survivors across West Mercia – in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, and Telford and Wrekin.
What is the IDVA Service?
IDVA’s are specialist workers providing a lifeline for victims at a time when they are most vulnerable, supporting them in making their own decisions to preserve their well-being. IDVAs provide both emotional and practical support and information, enabling them to make their own choices about the action that they wish to take in order to promote their long-term safety.
IDVAs work closely with a range of organisations to help victims to get the best possible support, and to ensure that the support is well coordinated. IDVAs are Independent of all statutory agencies and advocate specifically for the victims of domestic abuse, ensuring that their voice is heard by the other agencies that are working to support them. Client confidentiality is guaranteed unless there is a safeguarding concern, and will only be reviewed if the IDVA feels that they need to share information about concerns for someone’s safety.
An IDVA can advise and support on the following matters:
- How to keep safe – assessing your risk level and developing safety plans with you including practical steps to keep you and your children safe
- Representing your views at a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)
- Sharing information with you so that you feel empowered to make decisions that are right for you
- Helping you to understand how the criminal justice process works, explaining what will happen if you report to the police, and what happens in court
- Support in seeking safe and appropriate housing options, if needed
- Advice on seeking expert legal advice and securing representation
- Options for considering a civil court order to gain protection through civil orders
- Support in working directly with the Police where there is a pending criminal prosecution of your abuser
- Details of how to make your home safe with additional security measures – including access to some safety devices free of charge
- Helping you access other services who can help e.g. refuge, housing, counselling and legal services
Looking for help?
24HR DOMESTIC ABUSE HELPLINE
Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin:
Call 0800 783 1359
Call 0800 980 3331
We also have Livechat available from 9am until 9pm, Monday to Friday for those who want to contact our helpline silently or who prefer to text rather than talk.
If you are in immediate danger please call 999
Referring to IDVA Services
If you are a professional working with, or approached by, a victim of domestic abuse whom you feel to be at high risk of significant harm, then please ask the person concerned if they consent to being referred to the IDVA service – the above information will help you to explain what we do.
Some important information about client consent
WMWA will accept a referral even if the potential client has not consented to that referral being made. We will always try to find a safe way to contact people if their key worker feels that they need the support of an IDVA – even if that person does not share that view at the time. However, there are risks for the potential client in trying to contact them when they have not provided details about how and when it will be safe to do so. We, therefore, urge all referring professionals to do all they can to obtain both consent and an indication of how and when that client would prefer to be contacted.
Please provide as much detail as you can on the referral form.