We are pleased to announce that Black Country Women’s Aid has been granted funding from the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to offer specialist support for young victims, disabled victims, and male victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The additional funding will enable us to dedicate a number of specialist IDVA (independent domestic violence adviser) and ISVA (independent sexual violence adviser) roles within our organization.
Young women are at particular risk of abuse within relationships; recent national ONS data indicates 7.6% of girls aged 16-19 had experienced abuse from a partner. This is the highest prevalence rate in any age group. In response to this, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises young people over the age of 16 as victims of domestic abuse in their own right.
Our new specialist young people’s IDVAs will work across Sandwell, Dudley, and Walsall, supporting young people aged 16-21 who are at risk from domestic abuse, forced marriage and “honour”-based violence. They will work closely with young people’s services including colleges, care leavers’ organisations and youth services to help young people get the support and safeguarding they need.
Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse and are also twice as likely to suffer assault and rape. However disabled victims may find it more difficult to access support, and their experiences are often not recognised as abuse. Our new disability specialist IDVA will work across Sandwell and Walsall to help disabled victims of abuse get support which focuses on their specific needs.
Men experience domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriages and “honour”-based violence, but often experience barriers to accessing services. We are developing a specific male support service with two specialist advocates to offer specialist gender-specific support for men. This service will also include a new website and social media to offer men a range of information on what abusive behaviour is, and how to get help.
The funding also enables us to expand our support for children and young people who have experienced rape and sexual violence. Two new children’s ISVAs will offer essential support and casework to children and their parents, as well as assistance through the criminal justice system.
As part of this specialist work we will be offering a range of training and briefings to agencies over Autumn 2021. If you would like to find out more about this, please join our mailing list for updates. If you would like to refer someone for support, please call us on 0121 553 0090.
There is still time to apply for some of these specialist roles, please visit our recruitment page for more information.