“Once someone has the right support in place, it can help them find the confidence and strength to proceed”
Jo is a team supervisor here at the Domestic Abuse (DA) Alliance, supporting our managers and directors to deliver our organisational priorities, whilst overseeing and providing guidance and support to our call handlers and caseworkers to ensure they can provide professional legal assistance to the victims of domestic abuse that we support.
Describe a typical day at the DA Alliance
I usually start my day responding to emails from our referral partners, and legal partners, and contacting individuals who have self-referred. I also ensure that our call handlers are actively contacting new referrals, to ensure we meet our service delivery targets. I oversee our casework team, who take witness statements and support victims to prepare their court documents. I regularly deliver training on civil injunctions to specialist domestic abuse support services, to help their teams gain a better understanding of the legal process and what victims should expect at each stage.
What attracted you to your role at the DA Alliance?
Domestic abuse is something that has impacted my life significantly. When I was experiencing it, I never had the legal support I needed, and this has driven me to help others who are walking a similar path. After I had successfully achieved a diploma in Domestic Violence and Awareness and completed my Family Law Paralegal and Legal Administration qualifications, I applied for a role at the DA Alliance. The service we provide offers a vital lifeline to victims of domestic abuse, and it is incredibly rewarding that I can help others, who face the same challenges that I did, to escape abuse.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is when a civil injunction (i.e., a non-molestation order or occupation order) is granted by the courts to protect a victim, or a victim and their child/children. Not only does this mean they are granted powerful protection in the form of a court order, but it also enables them to start to cope and recover from the abuse and trauma that they have suffered so they can feel safe again.
Are there any frustrations or challenges, and how have you overcome these?
I regularly speak with victims who are terrified of what their perpetrator may do if they [the victim] start the process to seek a protection order. Understandably, the victim is often emotionally attached to the perpetrator, or under the influence of a third party advising them not to make the application. That’s why we spend a lot of time working closely with every person referred to our service, so that they know they are fully supported throughout the process. In many cases, a victim of domestic abuse may not feel it’s the right time to pursue their application. When this happens, we always provide them with our contact details, and signpost to other specialist services who may be able to offer the practical and emotional support they need at that time. We also encourage people to report any further incidents of abuse to the police. Once someone has the right support in place, it can help them find the confidence and strength to proceed with the legal process.
What more do you think could be done to support victims of domestic abuse?
The single biggest challenge domestic abuse victims face is access to Legal Aid. I would like to see means testing for Legal Aid eligibility removed for all victims of domestic abuse, so that they can access funding when they need it most, to support them throughout the legal process.
What advice would you give to someone applying to work at the DA Alliance?
The work we do here at the DA Alliance is incredibly rewarding but it’s not easy. Not only do you need to provide the most up to date legal information, but you must be able to empathise, and show compassion, patience, and consistency. This skill set can make all the difference to someone who is vulnerable and trying to navigate a complex legal system. A good awareness of what constitutes domestic abuse is essential. Domestic abuse is not only physical harm – it takes many forms, including psychological, financial, and emotional abuse. The experiences that victims share with us can be difficult to hear. Our management team take workplace wellbeing very seriously and support us in creating a positive work environment. This means we’re in a strong, healthy position to help others. There are lots of opportunities at the DA Alliance to continue our professional development across many aspects of the law. I feel extremely lucky to be progressing my career in family law with the DA Alliance and to follow my mission to protect victims and families of domestic abuse.
In this blog post, our Head of External Relations, Rosie Watson, talks about the reasons why she became a White Ribbon Champion and how we can all help to #ChangeTheStory and prevent violence against women and girls.
White Ribbon UK is the leading charity engaging men and boys to prevent violence against women and girls. I am a White Ribbon Champion because ending violence is something I feel passionately about.
November 25th each year is marked as White Ribbon Day – it is an opportunity to reflect, to draw everyone’s attention to men’s violence against women, and to focus on what we can all do to make a difference.
Through my work with the Domestic Abuse Alliance, I’ve heard many devastating and shocking first-hand accounts from victims and survivors about their experiences of abuse. That’s why I decided to become a White Ribbon Champion – and raise my voice alongside theirs – to increase awareness and challenge the problematic behaviours, gender stereotypes and inequalities that can create a culture of fear and lead to violence.
The theme for White Ribbon Day 2023, is ‘#ChangeTheStory’. Throughout November this year many individuals and organisations are working to make consistent choices and actions to disrupt the root causes of violence so that women and girls are able to live their lives free from violence and the fear of violence. To make change happen so that violence against women is never seen as inevitable or expected.
We can all help to make this change happen. We need to start by disrupting the behaviours that are often dismissed as ‘small’ or ‘low level’ acts – sharing sexist ‘jokes’ at work or in group chats, catcalling women in the street, or harassing women on a night out.
Here are some suggestions for how we can make a difference. Learning the phrase, ‘I’m not OK with that,’ when confronted by ‘banter’ or sexist ‘jokes’ but uncertain what to do. We can make sure we have open conversations with friends, family and colleagues where violence, sexism and misogyny are noted and spoken about. We can make sure that people know they are not alone, and that help is available. We can find out more about allyship and how men can speak up and be active in preventing violence.
Wearing a White Ribbon can be a useful conversation starter. You can consider making the White Ribbon Promise to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women. Find out more by visiting the White Ribbon UK website.
We can all help to end men’s violence against women when we choose to #ChangeTheStory.
For more information, resources, and ways to get involved this White Ribbon Day, please visit the White Ribbon UK website: https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/white-ribbon-day-2023
The DA Alliance provides access to legal support and protection for anyone experiencing domestic abuse.
Business owner and survivor of domestic abuse Sharon Livermore has launched a nationwide campaign to help employers tackle domestic abuse. The campaign, ‘Working It Out’, created in collaboration with the Domestic Abuse (DA) Alliance and outsourced HR provider The HR Dept calls on employers to sign up to a six-step pledge to support employees.
After being forced to take five days of annual leave to attend the court case of her abusive partner, Ms Livermore created ‘Sharon’s Policy’ in 2021. The policy enables businesses to improve workforce safeguarding procedures for victims of abuse.
The Working It Out six-step pledge invites employers to take action by:
- Becoming a member of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse
- Introducing and embedding a domestic abuse policy in the workplace
- Ensuring all staff know where to get help if they are experiencing domestic abuse
- Raising awareness of domestic abuse among employees
- Publicly sharing their commitment to the Working It Out pledge
- Reporting back on activities and achievements annually
Following the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the Home Office published Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance to increase awareness and inform the response to domestic abuse. The guidance highlights the important role employers have in helping victims of domestic abuse to remain in work, in the workplace itself, and to help victims access the support they need.
Sharon educates organisations by offering specialised training on domestic abuse and its impact on their workforces. She also provides strategies to help employees resolve the issue.
“Colleagues and managers can often be the only other people outside the home that survivors talk to each day and are therefore uniquely placed to help spot signs of abuse. Whether providing a safe space to disclose abuse or signposting to the right organisations for help, employers can be a vital link between an employee and the support they need,” explains Sharon.
“When I was experiencing domestic abuse, my employer couldn’t fully support me – because they didn’t understand what help I needed or how to provide it. The Working It Out pledge provides a platform for employers to actively demonstrate their commitment to raising awareness of domestic abuse and providing the right support so their employees and business can thrive,” she adds.
“Our collaboration with Sharon and The HR Dept on the Working It Out campaign is a powerful example of how people and organisations can partner to protect victims of domestic abuse,” says Razi Hassan, Director of Partnership and Communication for the DA Alliance. “By engaging with employers and providing them with practical tools and resources, we can ensure that those experiencing domestic abuse are identified and receive the help they need as soon as possible.”
“For many victims of domestic abuse, the workplace may be an escape from abuse at home. But with many of the UK workforce now working from home, employers also have the responsibility to ensure that the remote workspace is not only prosperous and productive, but also a safe place for their employees,” says Felicity Kenny, Managing Director of The HR Dept.
“By signing the Working it Out pledge, it demonstrates commitment as an employer to raising awareness of domestic abuse and having the resources available to provide help.”
Domestic Abuse: The Facts
- As many as one in five victims may need to take time off work because of abuse (Domestic violence and the workplace TUC 2014).
- One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime (Domestic abuse prevalence and trends, England and Wales: year ending March 2020).
- An estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 years and over experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales for the year ending March 2022 (Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2022).
- The social and economic costs of domestic abuse are estimated to be in the region of £78 billion (2022 to 2023 prices) over a three-year average period of abuse (Government response to ‘A Patchwork of Provision: how to meet the needs of victims and survivors across England and Wales’).
- Lost output relating to time taken off work and reduced productivity is estimated to cost the UK economy £14 billion (The Home Office: The economic and social costs of domestic abuse. Published 21 January 2019).
- In 2017, Vodafone Foundation published a report about the barriers that prevent organisations from doing more to support employees who are experiencing domestic abuse, as victim-survivors or as perpetrators. A link to the report can be found here: Domestic Violence and Abuse: Working together to transform responses in the workplace.
For further information about the Working It Out campaign and pledge and how you can get involved click here.