National domestic abuse charity SafeLives has published some troubling research into the time taken for domestic violence victims to get proper help. SafeLives, which was previously known as the Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA), focuses its work on high-risk victims.
In its report entitled ‘Getting It Right First Time’, the charity reveals that on average a sufferer will wait nearly three years to get effective help. The waiting time for ‘high-risk’ abuse is only slightly shorter than that for ‘medium-risk’ abuse.
Particularly damning was the finding that the majority of victims – around 85% – did reach out for help to various professionals including GPs, social workers and the police, but did not receive ‘effective’ help. A quarter of ‘high-risk’ sufferers visited A&E several times due to their injuries, and some of them went up to fifteen times. SafeLives has concluded in its report that much more could be done and that there were ‘far too many missed opportunities to get help for families experiencing domestic abuse’.
An important reason for seeking help is that abuse can be overcome. According to SafeLives, around 60% of victims who are treated by specialist domestic violence services later report that the abuse has stopped.
The conclusion the SafeLives draws from its comprehensive data is that families that are at high risk of abuse need to be identified sooner. It calls for a more coordinated effort, particularly among public sector professionals, to identify families where there is a significant risk of harm. Proposals for this include making links between adult and child abuse risks within a family, an increased recognition that abuse among minority ethnic groups or LGBT victims were more likely to be overlooked, help for friends and family members who may know of abuse but don’t know where to turn, and an increase in ‘specialist domestic abuse services based in the community’. The recommendation is that front-line services should be working together more effectively to help those most at risk.
The SafeLives report can be read in full here.