Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for Knowsley Council and its partners. This includes raising awareness of the issue, highlighting the signs to look out for and importantly, how to access help and support.
A range of agencies provide specialist support to residents who may be suffering from domestic abuse. This includes the Council’s Domestic Abuse Advocates.
We spoke to Jo, who has been a Domestic Abuse Advocate for 14 years, to find out more about the role and how they can support you.
What can people expect if they are referred to a Domestic Abuse Advocate?
People can expect to be offered independent bespoke support. They can expect to be treated with respect, empathy and not to be ‘victim blamed’.
They can expect to speak to someone with a high knowledge of what coercive control can look like, with an understanding of the complex nature of domestic abuse and the impact on the whole extended family.
A safety plan would be developed with their advocate which gives them choice, options and the ability to identify risks in their home and their own unique situation.
We offer a strong multi-agency way of working, as most people we speak to find it very supportive to create good relationship with ourselves and other agencies.
We also offer flexibility to support people with complex needs. This can include meeting in community venues that they feel more at ease in, or a walk and talk in park.
The service has a very good understanding of gender, sexuality and what that looks like within modern relationships and the additional boundaries people face to be understood.
Support is bespoke depending on what the person needs from the service, and its regularly reviewed, so there isn’t a set time and expectations are realistic.
Sometimes people only require a one-off session to support them with their confidence or safety planning. Others may need a more structured offer of weekly support. The support we provide varies and is person-led.
What positive feedback have you received about the support you provide?
It’s so rewarding when people we have supported take the time to provide us with feedback. Recent feedback I have received includes how:-
A client didn’t have the confidence to leave without my support. Their “life has changed and we can focus on rebuilding.”
A client didn’t think anyone understood homophobia and domestic abuse but now, they “feel more accepted as me in my own community, and appreciate the link into LGBTQ+ specific agencies to help with this side of my esteem issues.”
A client was supported with options which “kept me and my family safer, but allowed me more time to figure out the relationship and now the relationship is much more positive.”
How can people access support from a Domestic Abuse Advocate?
Working with a Domestic Abuse Advocate is via a professional referral such as the police, social care or other appropriate agencies.
The main things is, you’re not alone and help and support is available. Remember, in an emergency, dial 999. For non-emergencies, contact:-
Knowsley Council Safer Communities Service (Specialist Domestic Abuse Service)
0151 443 2610
The First Step (Specialist Domestic Abuse Service)
0151 548 3333
Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
0151 443 2600
0800 107 0726
National Domestic violence Helpline
0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line
0808 801 0327
LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline
0800 999 5428