This is an excerpt from the consultation response.
The Women’s Regional Consortium response to the Call for Views on the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy provided much feedback which we consider still remains relevant to this Consultation. Repeating many of the issues raised in the Call for Views is not an effective use of time especially given extremely tight resources and current pressures of work within the community and voluntary sector.
In general, we believe there is a lack of detail in the draft Strategy particularly with regards to specific actions and targeted outcomes to effectively tackle domestic and sexual abuse. We are aware that further Action Plans are to be developed but believe that these should have been provided as part of this consultation process. Without the detail of the actions planned it is impossible to comment on how this Strategy will achieve its stated Vision and Aim.
We have briefly summarised the main points from our response to the Call for Views which we wish to reiterate:
- the importance of specifically recognising the gendered nature of domestic and sexual abuse in terms of the actions which need to be taken in the Strategy;
- the critical importance of funding for the Strategy – without long-term sustainable funding there is no chance of achieving the vision and aim for the Strategy;
- the need to see full implementation of the Gillen Review recommendations including training across all levels of the judiciary on how domestic and sexual abuse presents, on harmful myths and internalised beliefs;
- the need for better training for the police around domestic and sexual abuse so that there are well defined responses to the reporting of incidents and that these are given priority;
- the need for greater empathy and understanding about the impact of domestic and sexual abuse by the police, justice system and other agencies victims come into contact with;
- the need for reform of the justice system as the law often fails victims who need to take action against their abuser including the robust enforcement of court orders and the appropriate sanctions so that violence and attempts to control do not go unpunished;
- the need for an acknowledgement of the impact of the Cost of Living Crisis and welfare reform/austerity measures on the ability of women to leave abusive relationships;
- the need for trauma-informed assessments for social security for those who have suffered abuse to ensure that victims are able to access their rightful entitlements;
- domestic abuse is a significant workplace issue and domestic abuse leave should only be one of a number of rights around domestic abuse provided in the workplace;
- the need for investment in specialist services for domestic and sexual abuse to cope with rising demand including the provision of secure funding which keeps pace with Cost of Living increases;
- the need for appropriate housing including refuge services and suitable, affordable housing to ensure that victims have somewhere to go when they leave an abusive partner;
- the links between domestic and sexual abuse and mental health and the need for victims to be able to access appropriate mental health services in a timely manner;
- there are clear links between the Domestic & Sexual Abuse Strategy and the Violence Against Women & Girls Strategy and it is important that they work closely together;
- this Strategy must not work in isolation from a range of other Strategies on inter-connected issues including the Gender Equality, Disability, LGBTQI+ and Anti-Poverty Strategies, the Mental Health Strategy, Drug and Alcohol Strategy, Homelessness Strategy, etc.