Under 50% of adults confident about helping a domestic abuse victim – survey

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·3-min read

Fewer than half of adults in Britain are confident in how to help a victim of domestic abuse, according to research which also found evidence of an “unfair” lottery in access to support.

A survey by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) found that 42% of respondents would be confident knowing where to go or who to speak to in order to help someone they know who is a domestic abuse victim.

One in eight said they felt “very confident” they would know what to do, according to the survey of 1,725 adults in March.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents said there should be more support for abuse victims, with 61% thinking that the Government should do more.

The research also identified “significant gaps” in support, such as therapeutic services for children dealing with trauma, support for very young children and babies, prevention services that work with perpetrators, and targeted interventions for minority groups.

It said uncertainty and constraints on local authority funding are posing a “major challenge” to local services.

Many services are provided by the voluntary sector and receive “piecemeal, short-term funding” from a variety of sources, and too often referrals are made based on availability, creating an “unfair lottery” for victims, the research suggested.

The EIF also said very few common approaches to providing support, especially to children, are being evaluated to assess if they are helping victims improve their lives.

It is calling on the Government to provide a long-term fund to improve the knowledge of what approaches work by enabling evaluation and ensure children are provided with the right support at the right time.

Dr Jo Casebourne, EIF chief executive, said: “As our survey shows, there’s broad public support for providing more help to the victims of domestic abuse and for the Government to be doing more.

“That’s why we call on Government minister Vicky Atkins to tackle this problem by creating a long-term fund.

“This is too important an area on which to lack evidence about what works best to support children who have suffered these traumatic experiences.

“The current system in local areas is often complicated and very variable, with no consistent response.

“All too often referrals have to be made only on the basis of what is available. This creates an unfair lottery for victims.

“While the Government has been providing support for victims and deserves credit for some of its initiatives, especially through the pandemic, new funding should be prioritised to ensure we are most effectively helping those affected by domestic abuse, particularly children, who are also victims, as the Domestic Abuse Bill recognises.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Nobody should feel unsafe in their own home and we are determined to ensure all victims of domestic abuse, including children, get the support they need.

“Protecting children is our priority, which is why this government recently announced £3 million for specialist services for children who have been affected by domestic abuse and we have also provided funding for various services throughout the pandemic, including £15 million for perpetrator programmes.

“The Government has also announced that £125 million will be allocated to local authorities for 2021-22 to provide support to domestic abuse victims and their children in safe accommodation.”