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During Domestic Abuse Awareness Week (21st - 25th November), BCHA are encouraging people who need their support to escape from an abusive relationship, to get in touch for help and advice.
One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and on average, two women are killed every week by a partner or ex-partner in the UK. These figures show just how many people are affected by domestic abuse, and how important the services BCHA provide are.
Mandy Goodenough, Head of Children, Young People and Families at BCHA, commented:
"We know that once stuck in an abusive relationship it can be very hard to escape. We are here to support people through this very difficult process and help them to move away from the abuse and build a new life.
"Our key priority is to increase the safety of victims of domestic abuse, and that of their children. If anyone is living in a violent or
abusive relationship and needs to access advice, information, support or accommodation, I encourage them to ring our 24-helpline: 01202 547755. As well as listening and providing emotional support, we can advise people on the safest way to leave an abusive situation."
BCHA run three refuges (one in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset) where they provide a safe place for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. The refuge in Poole also includes a space for a man escaping abuse. While people are staying at the refuges, BCHA work with them to help them to regain their self worth, empower them to make their own life choices, and break patterns of behaviour to stop them getting involved in another abusive relationship.
BCHA help children affected by domestic abuse too. A Child Support Worker works at the Dorset refuge with children in one-to-one sessions, giving children the opportunity to talk about their feelings. Group activities are also organised, including children's clubs and family activities, to help children deal with their experiences.
Mandy Goodenough said:
"BCHA's ultimate aim is to help these people live independently and safely within the community. Once people are ready, we help them to move on to independent accommodation, helping them to settle and continuing to provide support to them through our community based services."
Earlier this year Bournemouth and Poole Local Authorities were successful in gaining additional funding to enhance the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) services they commission through BCHA to provide community based support for victims of domestic abuse in Dorset.
The IDVA provides support to people who are at high risk of harm. They work with the victim to draw up a safety plan, specific to their
individual needs, advising them on how to increase their security and safety in their own home.
BCHA also received funding from the Ministry of Justice Victim and Witness Fund to provide a Court IDVA in Dorset. The Court IDVA supports victims through the criminal justice system, keeping victims informed about court dates and bail applications. They work hard with other local agencies to ensure the victims voice is heard throughout the criminal proceedings.
If anyone is living within an abusive relationship and needs advice or support, BCHA urge them to call their 24-hour support line on 01202 547755. In the case of an emergency they should call 999 immediately.