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Support for Survivors of Domestic Abuse - the Crucial Role of By and For Organisations

Updated: Jul 10

With a range of different support services available to aid in recovery and advocacy, this article looks at the importance of organisations that are run by and for survivors of domestic abuse


intervening to stop abuse continuing

A key aspect of domestic abuse and a tactic of control used by many abusive partners is to isolate survivors from family and friends. This cuts survivors off from the support and encouragement they need to leave abusive relationships and recover from their experiences of domestic abuse. Having contact with others is beneficial to both survivors and their children, this is why all DVACT-PAI programmes recommend building support from social groups, friends, and family and reaching out for help.


However, rebuilding old relationships can be difficult, and may not be possible when considering the need to stay safe from an abusive ex/partner. Survivors may also feel that they are not understood by past contacts or by mainstream services and are looking for others who share their experiences, relate to them culturally and will provide non-judgemental support.


We need to recognise that no one size fits all and we must ensure that this type of support is also embedded in ‘by and for’ specialist services so that Black and minoritized, LGBT+, Deaf and disabled survivors also get the help they need to navigate their journey out of domestic abuse. The importance of wider community-based services can’t be underestimated for survivors of domestic abuse. - The Domestic Abuse Commissioner

DVACT-PAI is dedicated to multi-agency working to ensure that survivors receive the right support at the right time and in the place that is most comfortable for them. We are proud to work alongside community-based services and recognise the vital role that By and For organisations can play in providing holistic support to survivors.


This article has been written in collaboration with The Milk Exchange, a By and For organisation that supports survivors through family and financial court proceedings.



What are "By and For" organisations?

These organisations are run by individuals who share similar characteristics or experiences as the communities they serve. Whether these shared traits are their experiences as survivors, cultural, ethnic, gender-based, or related to sexual orientation, the deep

understanding these organisations possess makes them incredibly effective.



Empathy and shared experience

One of the greatest strengths of By and For organisations is the profound empathy and shared experience they offer. Survivors of abuse often feel isolated and misunderstood, especially those from marginalised or minority groups. These organisations provide a safe haven where survivors can connect with people who truly understand their experiences. This shared understanding fosters trust and means that survivors are able to seek help without fear of judgement.



Cultural competence

Cultural competence is a cornerstone of effective support for abuse survivors. Survivors from diverse backgrounds face unique barriers, such as language differences, cultural stigmas, and specific socio-economic challenges. By and For organisations inherently possess the cultural insights needed to navigate these barriers. They offer tailored support by default, that respects cultural sensitivities and addresses specific needs, ensuring that survivors receive the most relevant and effective assistance.



Building trust

Many survivors hesitate to seek help due to mistrust of mainstream services, which they may perceive as disconnected or insensitive to their cultural context. By and For organisations, by virtue of their shared identity with the communities they serve, often command greater trust. This trust is crucial in encouraging survivors to come forward and also engage with other support services.



Advocacy and Representation

By and for organisations are vital advocates for their communities. They provide a voice for underrepresented groups in the discourse on abuse, advocating for policy changes and raising awareness about the specific issues their communities face.




Holistic support

The support offered by “by and for” organisations is often holistic and inclusive. Recognising how abuse affects every aspect of a survivor’s life, these organisations provide comprehensive services that address immediate safety needs as well as long-term recovery and empowerment. This might include mental health support, legal assistance, housing services, and economic empowerment programmes, all tailored to the specific cultural and social contexts of the survivors.



Empowerment

By and for organisations are indispensable in the fight against domestic abuse. They foster a sense of solidarity and resilience, encouraging community members to stand against domestic abuse and support each other. This collective empowerment can lead to lasting social change, challenging the norms and structures that perpetuate abuse.


 

In recognising and supporting the work of “by and for” organisations, we take a crucial step towards a more inclusive and effective approach to ending domestic abuse. Let us champion the cause of “by and for” organisations and ensure they receive the recognition and resources they deserve - Lina Gimpel, Founder and CEO, The Milk Exchange

 


Find By and For organisations


The Milk Exchange - Founded by women with lived experience of navigating the family court process as domestic abuse survivors The Milk Exchange is a membership network of accessible, affordable, online support groups, empowering communities through their family court proceedings, and beyond. Visit https://themilkexchange.uk/


Kaleidoscopic UK - Kaleidoscopic UK was founded by Vickie Robertson BEM in January 2019 after her experience of childhood and adult domestic abuse. Experiencing first-hand the gaps in our systems, current support and services available, combined with a general lack of training or understanding of domestic abuse, Vickie was inspired to help others in similar situations to find the long term or unique support they need by delivering a range of specialist services for all individuals in our community through Kaleidoscopic UK. Visit their website at https://www.kaleidoscopic.uk/


Jennifer Gilmour - Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and help others. Jennifer has published two Amazon Best Sellers, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings and speaks at events across the UK to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Jennifer has grown a digital community to support discussions around domestic abuse online. Starting with her Twitter Chat #AbuseTalk, this developed into an online forum.  #AbuseTalk took a pause for a couple of years but is relaunching in 2024 with a digital holistic hub, a place to find local wellbeing services, self defence classes, coaches, community groups and more. Jennifer says: "Together we are Louder".  find out more at https://jennifergilmour.com/


VOICES - VOICES is a charity founded by women with lived experience, dedicated to providing recovery support and advocacy for people affected by domestic abuse. VOICES is also a platform which enables the voices of people with lived experience of domestic abuse to inform and improve service provision, in response to their needs. Visit their website for more information https://voicescharity.org/



About DV-ACT Programmes

DV-ACT Programmes are a division of DV-ACT Ltd. DV-ACT comprises a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy training and treatment programmes to local authorities and the family courts.



DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do. You can find out more about us at Who runs DV-ACTION Bespoke Programmes?, our values at our about page or visit our main company website at dvact.org.

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